The history and development of symbolic modelling

Symbolic Modelling was codified by James Lawley and Penny Tompkins from the work of David Grove.

From Cei Davis Linn: “David Grove developed the concept known as Clean Language, of which the application of
Metaphor Therapy is facilitated in the early eighties”

As James Lawley and Penny Tompkins put it in the forward to the book “Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds” by Wendy Sullivan and Judy Rees:

[In the early 1980’s David Grove] a New Zealand counselling psychologist was embarking on a quest to help heal the minds of individuals using their personal metaphors. David Grove noticed his clients commonly used metaphor to describe their painful emotions, traumatic memories and deepest sense of who they were… Grove noticed that each individual’s metaphors had a structure and internal logic… Rather than people having metaphors, it’s as if they were their metaphors. And when these changed, they did too.

Grove was faced with a conundrum. If language is inherently metaphorical, how could he work with others’ metaphors without bringing his own into the conversation? His solution, Clean Language, was a brilliant innovation – a simple set of questions that make use of only the most basic elements of human perception.

Everyone needs to tell their story,

and when you do everything changes.