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What is Clean Language?

Clean Language is a simple set of questions developed by counselling psychologist David Grove. These questions are used with a person’s own words to direct their attention to some aspect of their own experience. Asking these questions in the right context often results in an interesting new insight or the recognition of some new possibility. And if that new possibility is then questioned using Clean Language, the result can be quite profound. Clean questions invite people to consider their experience from different perspectives and they are often surprised by their own capacity to generate new, powerful and useful ideas about their own experience. They are used in many different fields, including coaching, therapy, business, health and education.

At the most simple level, Clean Language is a set of 12 questions from which assumptions and metaphors have been “cleansed” as far as possible. Clean Language can be combined with metaphors a person uses, creating a bridge between their conscious and unconscious minds. Clean Language is not intended as a tool for manipulating others

Clean Language is a new way of thinking about the way people think, with profound implications and powerful effects. As a general principle, Clean Language questions is about the positive stuff in the speaker’s landscape – the resources they have, and the outcomes they desire. The practice of listening and observing with full attention on other person’s words (and non-verbal signals) without offering advice and opinions is known as ‘behaving cleanly’ – this is central to Clean Language. Metaphors are fundamental to how we make sense of the world, and how we organize our thoughts. Clean language questions help other people to explore their thinking and the metaphors that underpin it.

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