Article from

First published on 20 May 2022

Finding Words in a Spiral Galaxy

James Lawley & Penny Tompkins

The following transcript is of a demonstration on our fifth workshop with a group Ukrainian psychologists and psychotherapists who want to use Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling to support themselves and their clients. The aim of the session was to demonstrate Symbolic Modelling ‘live’.

Other transcripts from this series are available here:
The client's responses and our questions were translated by Anna Stativka  and  Dr. Vladislav Matrenitsky.

This transcript is illustrative of a number of features:
  • The client presents with a potentially serious physical symptom and so we start by clarifying the scope of our agreement and our expertise.
  • Since the client does not know how to find the words she needs to help a mother tell her son his father has been killed in the war, we cannot develop her desired outcome directly. Instead we work adjacently – to maintain attention in the vicinity of the relevant experiences (see J13, J21 and J45) – until a resource metaphor emerges which will enable the client to find the words to support the family.

Download: Finding Words in a Spiral Galaxy.pdf


Penny and James book, Metaphors in Mind was the first comprehensive guide to Symbolic Modelling using the Clean Language of David Grove. An annotated training DVD, A Strange and Strong Sensation demonstrates their work in a live session. James has also written (with Marian Way) the first book dedicated to Clean Space: Insights in Space. Between them Penny and James have published over 200 articles and blogs freely available on their website:

All information on this web site (unless otherwise stated) is Copyright © 1997- Penny Tompkins and James Lawley of The Developing Company. All rights reserved. You may reproduce and disseminate any of our copyrighted information for personal use only providing the original source is clearly identified. If you wish to use the material for any other reason, please get in touch via our Contact Form