The Symbolic Modeling Solution

If you have would like to discover how to use Clean Language and Symbolic Modeling in your business or practice, our Symbolic Modeling Solution – Clean Facilitator Program may be for you.

The Symbolic Modeling Solution is a unique course composed of three separate modules, designed to give you a steady path to a highly practical Clean Language and Symbolic Modeling skillset.

Starting from first principles this unique training program will help you steadily gain proficiency all the way through to an internationally recognized certification as a Clean Facilitator.

Symbolic Modeling and Clean Language Methodologies have proven invaluable in therapy, coaching, management, and other forms of facilitation and elicitation of critical information.

You may choose to go for certification (Module 3), through our Clean Facilitator Certification Program, but you do not need to do so in order to participate and begin applying what you learn right away.

The Symbolic Modeling Solution

Includes the following three courses:

  • Clean Facilitator Part 1
    • Identifying Resources: Gives you the foundations of modeling work.
    • Going PRO: Introduces the Problem > Remedy > Outcome model for use in creating the conditions for change and developing desired outcomes.
  • Clean Facilitator Part 2
    • Working with “binds” – noticing when someone is ‘stuck’ and how to work with that level of client complexity cleanly.
    • Clean Space & Emergent Knowledge: Introduces unique methods for working with including physical expression and space in change work.
  • Clean Facilitator Part 3
    • Learning Assessment & Certification Process (Optional).
    • This learning assessment is designed as a skills based opportunity to gain real time development through specific and helpful feedback.

Clean Facilitator Part 1 & 2 are run over two five day intensives at our training facility on the Central Coast of California, USA.

Sharon Small works with small groups on each training (between 6 and 15 people) allowing for a high-touch experience that is intended to let everyone participate fully and learn at their best (see Q&A section below for more info).

More Details on the Modules

Clean Facilitator Part 1

In this module you will…

  • Learn to Identify and develop Resources:
    • Learn the 12 primary Clean Language questions.
    • Begin eliciting client generated metaphors.
    • Start building metaphor landscapes.
    • Work with the syntax and rhythm of asking the clean questions.
    • And get comfortable running your own clean modeling session of approximately 30 minutes.
  • Learn the Problem-Remedy-Outcome model and how to use it:
    • Begin to work with the structure of change and how it happens.
    • Discover the PRO model and use it to your clients’ benefit in developing their desired outcome landscape.
    • Develop your skills in building your clients landscapes through experiential learning and practice.
    • Gain flexibility in your Clean work.
    • Work with emergent properties.
    • Get comfortable running your own Symbolic Modeling sessions of 45 minutes or more.
    • and work through the 6 phones of a Symbolic Modeling session, moving fluidly between phases as they change with your clients insights and metaphor landscape.

Clean Facilitator Part 2

In this module you will…

  • Learn about ‘Binds’: what they are and how to navigate them in your Clean sessions:
    • Begin modeling at a higher level.
    • Hone your pattern spotting skills by becoming aware of underlying patterns in your clients’ metaphors.
    • Recognize patterns that move us forward and those that keep us stuck.
    • Learn how to tease them apart using the Symbolic Modeling methodology and Clean Questions.
    • Notice when you may be affected by your clients landscape and how to move back into an unaffected state of presence.
  • Learn Clean Space & Emergent Knowledge (EK), two powerful new models developed by David Grove. (This is a whole different animal and a really fun training!). You will…
    • Learn when and how to apply both processes – Clean Space and Emergent Knowledge
    • Learn more about why space matters and how to use it as your ally.
    • Use iteration in a new way to benefit your clients.
    • Learn more about self-organizing network theory and experience it in action.
    • Learn when and how to apply both processes — Clean Space and Emergent Knowledge— as well as how to join them up with your Symbolic Modeling sessions.

Clean Facilitator Part 3

Learning Assessment & Certification Process (optional).

You can choose to take part in the Clean Facilitator Certification Program, which provides a skills-based, internationally recognized certification as a Clean Facilitator.

Our approach to this program is unique. You get 12 months’ access to any module you have paid for and completed. You are able to attend (with registration) as many times as you like when that model is offered over the next year.

We believe mastery comes with repetition and would like to create incentive for previous students to return, gain skill and help create a vital and active learning environment.

We also offers one group support call each month that covers…

  • Question & Answer Session: Where you’re invited to bring any queries you may have from your own practice or study.
  • Specific Skill Development: Each month we’ll pick one key skill to focus on and to enhance through additional discussion.
  • Modeling the Work: Real-life application of the skills you have acquired and interviews with active Certified Clean Facilitators in various fields.


You may also be interested in advanced skills and the Clean Convergence that happens in January with Sharon Small, Penny Tompkins and James Lawley.

Clean Convergence is a group of classes that include…

  • the 3-day Symbolic Modeling Lite (for new participants and as a practicum refresher for experienced facilitators)
  • a 3-day Advanced program designed and presented by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley,
  • and a 3-day Symbolic Modeling Retreat where you can do your own personal development via facilitation from Penny Tompkins, James Lawley and Sharon Small.
More Info & Booking
We are also planning to run a 6 month program from May through October with three onsite programs supported by online learning between. Please contact us for more information.

Book the Spring 2017 Program

The Symbolic Modeling Solution will also be offered as a year-long program including on-site, off site and distance learning opportunities.

Why Symbolic Modeling?

Symbolic Modeling is a coaching and therapeutic methodology that uses Clean Language questions and Clean Thinking as the heart of its model.

Clean Language is a way of asking questions that minimizes unintended influence on your clients; the aim being to leave people free to answer from their personal experience. It is a means of respecting the individuals or the clients own way of experiencing the world.

Clean Language Questions and modeling a clients own internal metaphor landscape were originally developed by psychotherapist and innovator, David Grove, to help clients resolve deep trauma. It is now being used to solve complex problems by some of the sharpest people in the world who prefer to empower other people rather than tell them what to do.

“Clean” is a metaphor for a way of being with others that is free (clean) of own assumptions, pre-suppositions, interpretations, and judgments. It minimizes unintended influence on others and reduces the risk of wasteful projections.

The aim is to leave clients free to answer from their own experience, unlock their creativity, and let them come up with solutions that match their way of being in the world.

In the mid-1980’s Penny Tompkins & James Lawley discovered David Grove and spent the ensuing 4 years modeling his work. They then began to work with the structure David was using successfully with his clients, adding some outcome orientation from NLP and Self-Organizing Systems theory and creating a robust teachable model for working with therapy, coaching and business clients — helping them get what they want in ecologically sound ways both for their internal systems and the social systems surrounding them.

Training Methods

Clean Facilitator Part 1 & 2

Sharon works in a small group format and this workshop is limited to 15 attendees.

The small group size is to allow for a high touch environment with time for developmental feedback towards your learning, exercises and application with others and self-reflection.

You will begin right away using the primary Clean Questions while learning more about how it works in an interactive and fun learning environment.

We do our best to teach Symbolic Modeling and Clean Language in a way that is fully congruent with the methodology being taught. This begins by it being modeled by your instructor in her day-to-day interactions with you and includes how we do our learning and exercises.

We work with a Do-Debrief-Diadactic model of learning. What this means to you is you may be asked to do exercises you don’t fully understand. At the time this may seem a bit anti-thematic to your learning and in being congruent with the Clean Philosophy, your experience and noticing is most important.

In doing the requested exercises before ‘hearing all about them’ you will be brining first hand experience to the course room without being unduly influenced by either someone else’s philosophy or pre-promoted expectations.

After the exercises we will debrief as a group, to find out what happened and then go into the structure of what is being done (i.e. the thinking or philosophy behind it).

We will then repeat the exercise with your own experience, groups insights and specific learnings available to you. This is a different way of learning than most programs you may take part in and one in which you may need to become comfortable with “not knowing”.

This is also congruent with the Symbolic modeling methodology. Being a ‘bottom-up” modeling process, there are often times when as facilitators we do not understand the content and yet must stay present to the framework or logic of the clients thinking.

We will work in groups of two or three to apply the model or skill to yourself and others in real time with real outcomes. In these small groups, you’ll have the opportunity to be an observer, a client, and a facilitator — giving you multiple perspectives from which to learn from.

This format allows you to take away new learnings quickly and use them right away in your own work and personal life.

Because you work with real life examples, you gain personal insight and behavioral flexibility that extends beyond class time.

Learning Assessment

The Learning Assessment for Clean Facilitator Certification is run over three days. This is designed as a face-to-face skills-based opportunity to gain real time development through specific and helpful feedback.

There are 5 skill-based modules to pass. Our presentation of what is expected and feedback is designed to help you develop your skills, know where you need to work, feel confident with the skill you have developed already and pass the assessment process in a way that feels in integrity with your own learning.

Assessment is done in an open room setting, when possible, so everyone can continue to learn from their classmates and other facilitators who are there.

The idea behind this format is that giving and receiving feedback can be difficult and when learning anything new, it is important. When we, as students, have an opportunity to watch others work, hear the feedback they receive, we learn new things.

In gaining the equanimity to receive and implement feedback with others in the room, your courage to implement and apply what you have learned in the previous days training will skyrocket. Take advantage of learning in this context, so when you return home to your therapy, coaching or management practice your skills and courage are encouraged in your normal work setting.

Sharon has also added 20 hours of mentoring and supervision to your assessment process. This gives those who need more development access to mentoring that will help them shine and those who are seeking to implement Symbolic Modeling and Clean Language into non-therapeutic environments an opportunity for consultation and assistance when desired.

For therapy and coaching participants the supervisory hours can be most meaningful when used to have your transcript viewed and evaluated, providing an ongoing feedback loop designed with your success in mind.

Your Trainer

Born in den Haag in 1962, Sharon is an internationally recognized Clean Language trainer and also an internationally recognized assessor for Clean Facilitator certification.  She has dedicated her mission to helping others gather good information so they can do great work.

With over 13 years of experience working in the nuclear industry, a degree in psychology and background in Jungian Archetypal psychology, Shamanism and NLP, Sharon brings a broad set of skills and experiences to her training rooms. She also provides individual consultancy work and supervision for coaches and therapists.

Sharon has trained therapists, coaches, auditors, cause analysts, operations & COE level management from Pacific Gas & Electric, Siemens, Ennovation (Japan), and Boeing in the UK, Japan, Germany and the US.

Sharon is a vibrant and engaging trainer with an amazing amount of energy. She is able to convey the “how to” of Clean in an accessible and friendly way, bringing humor, insightfulness and new skills into the field of coaching, management communication and investigative interviewing.

Sharon is very comfortable with non-native English speakers having taught extensively in Japan and Germany. And, although currently uni-lingual, is working towards gaining some of her own second language proficiency in a number of other languages.

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(2) comments

Erika Laederach a couple of years ago

Hi Sharon
I have met Caitlin Walker at an event of the ICF (International Coach Federation) and was impressed. I would like to learn Clean Language in an intensive face-to-face programme and in Swiss winter. I am attracted by your full Late programme 2015 in November in California. My question: is your programme ICF accredited?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Best regards

    Sharon Small a couple of years ago

    Hi Erika,

    Thank you for your comment. I am so glad you had a chance to meet Caitlin. She is quite dynamic.

    Regarding ICF accredited hours … Although my program does lead to an internationally recognized Clean Facilitator Certification Level I – it is not yet ICF accredited.

    I am happy to provide documentation – hours of attendance and and a detailed itinerary with learning objectives, if that would be helpful to you. I do understand that as an ICF certified coach there are benefits in going through programs that provide you accredited hours you need for your ICF continuing education credits.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions.


    Sharon Small

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