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First published on 10 July 2022

A Fire that is Good Enough

James Lawley & Penny Tompkins
The following annotated transcript comes from our twelfth webinar with a group of Ukrainian psychologists and psychotherapists who want to use Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling to support themselves and their clients living through the horrific war.

The aim of these sessions, facilitated by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, is simply to demonstrate Symbolic Modelling 'live'. The annotation gives some idea of what we take into account in deciding which Clean Language question to ask, and when.
Transcripts of previous demonstrations with this group are available at:
The client's responses and our questions were translated by Anna Stativka.

This transcript is illustrative of a number of features:
  • Although every question is selected individually taking into account the latest information provided by the client, when you review a transcript you can see that we tend to ask questions in clusters. That is, we ask a number of questions one after another that are all heading in the same process direction. We call these ‘vectors’ although in the commentary that follows the transcript, James refers to them as phases. Knowing how and when to select, maintain and switch phases/vectors is an advanced skill. Making decisions based on shifts in the client’s attention is the main reason our sessions (mostly) seem to flow smoothly.
  • The multiple use of the ‘And what kind of …?’ question (which accounted for a quarter of all questions asked in this session) demonstrates that where the question invites the client’s attention to go is more important than which question is asked.

James Lawley & Penny Tompkins
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:
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Penny Tompkins
James Lawley
Marian Way

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