Clean Language is a straightforward set of questions that were developed by counselling psychologist, David Grove. These questions are utilised with a person’s own words in order to direct their attention to some aspect of their own experience. Grove was a New Zealand psychotherapist and is well known for his work in the field of symbolic modelling, which involves using metaphor, clean questions, and spatial positioning to help clients access their unconscious thoughts and beliefs.
Grove’s work has been used in a variety of fields, including therapy, coaching, business, education, and creative arts. He authoured several books on his approach, including “Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds” as well as”Resolving Traumatic Memories: Metaphors and Symbols in Psychotherapy.”
Asking these questions in the correct context frequently results in an interesting new insight or the recognition of a novel possibility. And if that novel possibility is then questioned using Clean Language, the result can be extremely profound.
Clean Questions invite Individuals to consider their experience from different perspectives. These types of questions are often surprised by their own capacity to generate new, powerful as well as useful ideas about their own experience. Clean Language Questions are used in many different fields, including coaching, therapy, business, health as well as education.
The History And Origins Of Clean Language
As we said before, Clean Language was devised by a New Zealand-born psychotherapist, David Grove. He developed this method while working with trauma cases such as sexual abuse survivors as well as war veterans during the 80s and 90s.
Later, Grove extended the fundamental Clean Language method to a number of associated concepts, such as:
- Clean Space,
- Clean Worlds, as we; as
- Emergent Knowledge.
In creating Clean Language, David Grove developed a set of ‘Clean’ questions. ‘Clean’ in this context means that the questions introduced as few of Grove’s own assumptions and metaphors as possible. This gives the client (or patient) full freedom for their own thinking.
Grove found that the ‘Cleaner’ the questions were, the more successfully the patient’s metaphors could be developed into powerful resources (for example, awareness, facts and understanding) for healing as well as change.
While David Grove did not publish extensively (Grove’s only book was Resolving Traumatic Memories, which was co-authored with B I Panzer) his methods achieved outstanding results, which attracted global attention in the therapeutic community. The model will probably continue to evolve and be adapted and adopted in work, learning, personal development, and no doubt beyond, because it is a powerful, appropriate and useful concept.
The Metaphors Which People Use
David found it was beneficial to direct attention to the metaphors people utilise naturally in order to describe their experience. Metaphors often operate at an unconscious level and by paying attention to them, individuals are able to gain access to a deeper and embodied level of experience:
- The structure of their thinking,
- The patterns that run their lives, and
- Their truth.
Asking Clean Questions, utilising the client’s own words and exploring metaphors are just a number of the different things that a clean facilitator can do to encourage the conditions for sustainable change. Here are a couple of other things that can be done:
Create a safe and non-judgmental environment: The first step to facilitating sustainable change is to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for your clients. This will allow them to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences, which is essential for effective coaching.
Listen actively: Listening actively is an important skill for any coach or facilitator. It involves paying close attention to what your client is saying, and using your own words to reflect back what you hear. This can help your client to feel heard and understood, and can also help to clarify their thoughts and ideas.
Use Clean Language questions: Clean Language questions are a powerful tool for facilitating sustainable change. They are designed to help clients explore their thoughts and feelings without the influence of the coach’s own biases or assumptions. By using Clean Language questions, you can help your clients to gain new insights and perspectives that can lead to lasting change.
Encourage the client’s own solutions: Another key aspect of facilitating sustainable change is to encourage the client’s own solutions. Rather than telling your client what to do, ask questions that help them to discover their own solutions and strategies. This can assist with building their confidence and motivation for change.
Follow up: Following up with your clients after a coaching session is an important part of facilitating sustainable change. This can help to reinforce the insights and strategies that were discussed in the session, and can also help to identify any new challenges or opportunities for growth. By staying in touch with your clients, you can help to support them on their journey towards sustainable change.
Clean Language In Action
Clean Language is made up of about 20 questions which are asked in a particular way. When David Grove observed therapists at work and examined transcripts of their client sessions, he realised they were changing their clients’ words subtly. So, he felt that this robbed them of their experience. Thus, David experimented with keeping his clients’ words intact, repeating them verbatim. Also, he began to cut down the questions themselves so that they would include fewer presuppositions.
For instance, “What are you thinking?” presupposes that an individual is thinking something, and reduces their probable responses, so David ‘cleaned’ the question to read: “Are you thinking anything?” Later, he eliminated the word ‘thinking’ and utilised a much cleaner question: “Is there anything else regarding …?”
In addition, David took extreme care to ensure the question that he was about to ask would be successful in directing their attention to a specific aspect of a person’s experience. He came to the realisation that questions like, “Are you able to tell me how you feel about that?” would shift their attention back and forth (you – me – you – that), so David removed all pronouns, unless they were part of what the client was talking about. So “Tell me more” also became, “Is there anything else about …?”
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is Clean Language?
Clean Language is a communication technique that focuses on using precise and neutral language to explore and understand a person’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences without imposing the interviewer’s assumptions or interpretations.
Who developed Clean Language?
Clean Language was developed by David Grove, a psychotherapist from New Zealand, in the 1980s. He created this approach to facilitate deep exploration of clients’ inner experiences while minimizing the influence of the therapist’s biases.
How does Clean Language work?
Clean Language utilizes a set of specific questions designed to direct attention to the client’s metaphors, symbols, and internal representations. By using clean and non-leading questions, the facilitator helps the client gain insight into their own thinking and discover new perspectives.
What are the key principles of Clean Language?
The key principles of Clean Language include using the client’s exact words, avoiding assumptions or interpretations, focusing on the client’s unique experience, and respecting their autonomy and expertise in their internal world.
In what contexts is Clean Language used? A: Clean Language is used in various fields such as therapy, coaching, counselling, training, and personal development. It is particularly effective in exploring complex issues, clarifying thoughts and emotions, and facilitating personal growth and self-awareness.