Thursday 24th March 2011
“It Certainly Ain’t Clean – Getting Down and Dirty with Your Client’s Language and Coping Behaviours.”
A Brief Overview by Andrew T. Austin
This is a brief overview of my “Metaphors of Movement” work prompted by the question, “How is ‘Metaphors of Movement’ different from ‘Clean Language’?”
A similarity between the two is that both seek to discover more and more details about the client's metaphor, and to keep all that is discovered together as a single experience (in contrast to a sequential exploration). A significant difference with Metaphors of Movement (MoM) is that the MoM process focuses on the same metaphor, while in clean language often many different metaphors are explored in turn and may end up far from the original metaphor.
Clean Language is a model developed by David Grove (1950-2008) and systematised by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley. Clean language is a model designed to have the client discover and develop and explore their personal symbols and metaphors, without contamination or distortion being created by the questions asked, or statements made, by the therapist.
Clean Language (CL) also is the basis of symbolic modeling, a stand-alone method and process for psychotherapy and coaching, which was also developed by James Lawley and Penny Tompkins following the modelling of David Grove. To learn more about these processes, please see their website: http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk
Metaphors of Movement (MoM) is much less about the metaphors a client uses and much more about the coping behaviours a person employs in dealing with the problems and issues in their lives, something that Charles Faulkner has explored in detail in his work on metaphors. The skill set for trainees of the MoM model is not about staying out of the client’s metaphors in order to avoid contamination; in fact it is almost the exact opposite. The therapist gets involved, gives direct suggestions and generally meddles with the client's response set. Principally, the therapist explores the client's metaphor, focusing on changing and developing the client's response set (coping behaviours) to the metaphor. In NLP parlance, this work is a generative change process created by direct intervention.
At the heart of the model are the following suppositions:
Four things should be noted here.
The most striking difference between CL and MoM is the degree to which a therapist using MoM gives metaphoric and direct suggestions to the client’s metaphorical description. For example, the client may report in the middle of the description of their suffering:
“...and I sometimes feel like life is an uphill struggle and I am terrified of backsliding again…”
A typical MoM response would be, “So, it is like you are on a slippery slope?” in order to gather more information. Using the principle that people are really good at knowing what their experience is not, rather than what something is. Thus the client may response either in the affirmative or negative.
In this real world example, the client responded in the negative. Saying, “I just don’t know if I’ll ever get on top of it all.”
In MoM, the metaphor is expanded only as far as is required so that the advice given by the therapist makes perfect sense to the client. The MoM model demands a high degree of creativity, humour, rapport, lateral thinking, and of course sensitivity to the client's response to all of these. These key skills are essential elements in MoM training.
In most schools of NLP, trainees are taught to match pace and lead the modality (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, etc) and submodality patterns offered by the client.
For example, in NLP, a mismatch would be observed with:
Client: “It has all blown out of all proportion and the problem just looks too big.”
Practitioner: “Where do you get the feeling?”
The MoM model expands this and encourages the practitioner to match the metaphors of the client. Frequently in NLP oriented sessions, the client's metaphorical utterances are ignored. For example, the client may say, “I feel lost and don't know which way to go” at which point the NLPer asks the client to remember a resource state and then starts anchoring kinaesthetic resources. The client may end up feeling better but the central issue of being “lost” and not knowing “which way to go” has been ignored.
MoM training seeks to eliminate these mismatches. This takes rapport building to a new level - not only does the therapist pace and lead V-A-K modalities and submodalities, but also the metaphorical identity of their experience. Examples of these can be found on the Metaphors of Movement website at www.metaphorsofmovement.com
The MoM model concerns itself primarily with metaphors of movement to work with stuck states and get clients moving again. It is a very practical methodology, often utilising drama, props and re-enactments. Clients and trainees of the process report that they find it practical, fun, effective, relatively fast, and most commonly, that it changes many of the accepted rules and practices of contemporary change work.
From a personal perspective, what is interesting is how many new distinctions and developments occur during workshops. MoM is very much a “living” and developing process, and I expect that a more formalised and expansive set of MoM premises and heuristics will emerge. Already, following extensive input from Steve Andreas, a number of distinct aspects and patterns have been identified and clarified.
For further details of the Metaphors of Movement model, please see: www.metaphorsofmovement.com
To see an example of Metaphors of Movement in action with real clients previously unacquainted with the process, please see:
Pragmatics of Change – The Distressed Late Guy (DVD): www.pragmaticsofchange.com
Weight Loss, using Metaphors of Movement: http://www.realpeoplepress.com/client-session-weight-loss-using-metaphors-movement-p-87.html
Posted by Andrew Austin at 07:33
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