Top critical review
22 people found this helpful
Clean Language - is it really that clean? Where did it come from?
on 30 December 2012
(In the style of the authors)
Questioner: What would a five star book of this kind look like?
Speaker: It would introduce clean language techniques in a clear manner that I could apply.
It would link these techniques to their roots in NLP , Ericksonian Hypnosis, Systemic approaches and solution Focused Therapy.
It would honestly appraise the approach and admit to wide influences , even if they were from other approaches than Clean Language texts and NLP.
It would be genuinely innovative and also consider "tricky" or complex situations and give examples of using these techniques in difficult meeting/teaching/ business negotiation or clinical contexts.
Questioner : Did this book look like that?
Speaker : No. Only the first thing I stated was achieved.
Questioner: Well, will you settle for that ?...................
If the answer is ....."yes" then this book is for you. It is a clear introduction. If the answer is "no" there are some issues you may consider before buying it.
This book does explain core aspects of clean language which is an interesting idea for counsellors, business folk and therapists. It is clearly (if rather repetitively) written. The case examples used are simplistic and do not seem "real" somehow. There are references to celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal and many popular quotations that may either Jar with the reader or may be amusing and accessible , depending on what you seek from a book of this kind.
It also attempts to stand in splendid isolation, pulling the ladders clean language would have used to climb to this position up behind it - it has an embarrassingly short list of sources and wider reading on language in therapy and the authors seem to be laying claim to relationship questions, future focused questioning styles, systemic feed forward or preferred future questions, Ericksonian adventures in metaphor and matching communication patterns and cooperation in therapy. Certainly Steve De Shazer and Bergs language structures from SFBT are either ignored or have been missed by authors? A good introduction to these would be [ASIN:0789033984 More Than Miracles: The State of the Art of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (Haworth Brief Therapy). Sullivan and Rees acknowledge only the late David Grove and "clean language" sources for what are very widespread therapeutic techniques and language structures. These techniques could just as easily be linked to JL Austons "How to do things with Words"[ASIN:019281205X How to Do Things with Words: The William James Lectures delivered in Harvard University in 1955 (Oxford Paperbacks), Wittgensteins work on "Language Games a good summary is in his biography by Ray Monk [ASIN:0099883708 Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius] and Milton Erickson's use of metaphor. In fact , a good accompanying book to Clean Language would be J Haleys "Uncommon Therapy" [ASIN:0393310310 Uncommon Therapy: Psychiatric Techniques of Milton H.Erickson, M.D.], his collection of Milton Ericksons' case studies in which some of these these techniques get their first airing (along with some strategic manipulation though so take care before going down this route it's addictive!).
Even NLP's Bandler and Grinder acknowledged Erickson! By suggesting that there are only clean language created techniques in clean language as an approach, Sullivan and Rees create a world where clean language has sprung from nowhere. I feel this is ungenerous. Putting these ideas in a wider context with other approaches would have helped rather than hindered the model. However Sullivan and Rees describe themselves as "specialist international trainers, psychotherapists, coach and coach supervisors , business consultants" etc and I acknowledge there is a need to create a "new" product to fulfil these roles successfully. Overall this IS a good introduction but you may still want to look wider than the sources used to put this interesting way to use words and metaphors into some context and also to be able to use the techniques effectively in more testing clinical and business situations.
Dave Hawkes . Senior Lecturer Mental Health.