How can Clean Language possibly be useful in cases of self delusion?

Clean in Coaching and Therapy

As a matter of principle, a Clean Language facilitator ‘keeps himself out of the process’, giving centre stage to the client’s language, the client’s metaphors, the client’s content. So people new to the Clean process are often curious about how it could possibly be useful in cases of self delusion, self denial or self deceit, where the conventional approach might be to challenge the client’s view.

We all deceive ourselves – it’s one of the ways we maintain our mental health, protecting our sense of meaning, control and self-esteem. But self delusion, self denial or self deceit can be a key element of intractable problems such as alcoholism or other addictive behaviours. A therapist or other change worker working with this kind of problem may find themselves becoming deeply frustrated: how come the client is the only one who can’t see the lie they are living?

It may be counter-intuitive, but in fact Clean Language can be particularly useful in these circumstances. Using the Clean language questions to help the client to self-model can be a way of bringing the self delusion into the client’s awareness in a non-confrontational way which makes it possible for them to accept the reality of the situation and to find their own ways to deal with it.

While it sounds simple, this is an advanced application of Clean Language, and requires some considerable skill on the faciliator’s part. Because of this, it has been taught by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley as Module 8 of Clean Change Company’s programme, the most advanced module available. From 2010 the content of this module will change, and ‘Self DDD’ will be taught as an advanced workshop, outside the modular programme, which will enable an even more personalised teaching approach.

If you would like a taster of this, you can download a conference presentation on the subject by Penny and James from the ‘Downloads’ section of this site.

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