We are Penny Tompkins and James Lawley ...

… co-developers of Symbolic Modelling and leading authorities in the use of Clean Language and self-originated metaphor for personal and professional development.
We are devoted to using Symbolic Modelling to develop the developers of others (therapists, counsellors, coaches, consultants, managers, leaders and teachers), to research new applications of metaphor, and to continue our own personal evolution.
In our coaching/therapeutic work we facilitate each client to self-model their individual  metaphors. In this way, they experience the repeating patterns in their lives, and discover how these patterns change as their metaphor landscape unfolds.
We run The Developing Company, are married and based in London. We are psychotherapists first registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy in 1993. We have a private practice and teach Symbolic Modelling throughout the world.

Our relationship with David Grove and his work

Have you ever noticed how the major turning points in life are seldom planned?

And so it was for us in 1995, when Penny’s intuition led her to seek out a therapist called David Grove — the originator of Clean Language and pioneer in the therapeutic use of client-generated metaphor.  We made a decision to ‘model’ David’s approach during in a five-year research project, culminating in the publication of the first comprehensive guide to our approach: Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling.

David became a dear friend and the loss due to his early death in 2008 remains with us to this day.

Making the work available

In 1997 we created cleanlanguage.co.uk about David’s and our work. Over the years this grew to around 400 articles, blogs, foreign language translations, etc. In 2023 we updated and re-designed it and it’s the vibrant and growing site you are using today.

One of our major contributions to the field has been through the 100 workshops we created and delivered to The Developing Group – a gathering of experienced Clean facilitators – between 2001 and 2022.  Many of the ideas in the the articles on this site were first tested on the Developing Group.

In 2017 James teamed up with Marian Way to publish the first book dedicated to the development of David Grove’s Clean Space: Insights in Space: How to use Clean Space to solve problems, generate ideas and spark creativity.

We’ve also created several online resources including :

An extensive online training: Introduction to Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling.

And now in its fifth year, InsideClean is a series of workshops which explore what happens below the surface, behind the scenes and inside the mind-body of some of the most experienced clean facilitators on the planet.

Recently a major area of interest has been the application of a clean approach to qualitative research. In particular the development of Clean Language Interviewing and the formalisation of a ‘cleanness rating’. After several articles in high-level academic journals, 2022 saw the publication of  Clean Language Interviewing: Principles and Applications for Researchers and Practitioners, edited by Heather Cairns-Lee, Paul Tosey and James.

We are now at an age where we could retire, but why retire from something that you love, that still stimulates your creativity and innovation, and that you can share with a community of like-minded souls?

The next question for us could be: “And what happens next!”