Is This The Best Clean Language Book Yet?

“Wow! Nick’s succeeded in capturing the essence of Clean Language’s relationship to bodywork in a readable and engaging form. Brilliantly done.”

That was the best I could come up with for Amazon (along with five stars) as I came to the end of Nick Pole’s new book, Words That Touch.

It really was excellent. I think it might be the best book on Clean Language so far – though it has hot competition from Angela Dunbar, Caitlin Walker and Marian Way.

What’s so good about it? That was a bit trickier to define.

The practical examples are excellent, with transcripts that aren’t boring or baffling. It provides a fascinating insight into how Nick thinks, as a shiatsu practitioner.

The “theory” section is going to be very handy. It explains how Clean Language works through the ideas of three renowned academics:

  • Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing
  • Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory
  • Iain McGilchrist’s The Master And His Emissary (on the divided brain).

I like Nick’s summary of the features of metaphor: it describes one thing in terms of another; it describes the abstract in terms of the familiar; it condenses information. And I very much enjoyed the metaphors Nick uses about Clean Language and metaphor.

  • Here are some of my favourite nuggets:
    “Metaphor is like the connective tissue of language.”
  • “Clean Language is an elegant way to bridge the gap between the body and the verbal mind.”
  • “Clean questions give the conscious mind a better sense of how intimately it is connected to the body, and they give the body a chance to express itself in ways the mind can understand.”
  • “Asking Clean Language is like learning another language. Until you are fluent, the mind can get very busy planning what to say next. on top of that, it often starts to worry about saying the wrong thing, or how the client will react.”

Most importantly, perhaps, Nick summarises why all this matters in bodywork, and why it hooks enthusiasts: “So what is it about Clean Language that makes it such a useful tool for cultivating mind/body awareness?

“It is not just the questions themselves – most of them are perfectly normal ones that you might well hear in any conversation. Nor is the emphasis on leaving space for the client to explore things in their own way original to Clean language. Other approaches to therapy… do that too. And it isn’t just the care you take to work with the client’s exact words – other therapists were doing that before Clean Language came along.

“But when you combine all three of these things, something interesting starts to happen…

“Clean questions bring the mind back to a state of pure perception – they reawaken the ability to experience things in a more childlike way, with openness and curiosity…

“You start out learning Clean Language as a way of getting better answers from your clients… But there is something else going on, too. The more you learn how to ask Clean questions, the more you are learning to think in this different way… Clean Language becomes a form of mindfulness that we practise every time we open our mouths to ask a new question.”

1 Comment

  • Sharon Small

    23/03/2017

    Agreed, Nicks book has a readability that is smooth and easy. I love all my Clean Language books, each one has their own specialty – and Nicks book Words That Touch feels like I am talking with a friend. Nick has done fantastic work in sharing the idea of Clean Questions, some thinking behind the ‘how’ of why clean methodologies can be so powerful and just enough self applied ‘give this a try’ to help create a sense of what can begin to happen as you pay attention to your body. Could not refer it more highly. It is now my first go to book when someone asks me …. what can I read to start learning about clean language?

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