This is the second in a series of six blog posts excerpted from the introduction to Gina Campbell’s book, Panning for Your Client’s Gold.
Fundamental to the processes David Grove developed is the respect in which he held the client’s wisdom and the confined role he assigned for the coach, therapist, or other helper or healer. In Clean processes, the client, not the professional, is the expert on himself. The professional is there to hold the space and facilitate the client’s exploration. Grove would surely never have assigned so little responsibility to the facilitator and so much to the client unless he truly believed—and had seen demonstrated quite literally thousands of times in his practice—that clients have within what they need to heal.
So if the client is to get accurate information about his inner organizing structure, where does the facilitator direct him to start looking?
Helping professionals using top-down approaches start with pre-established generalities, to which a client is compared. This might mean referring to a list of categories to which the client is matched. These categories then suggest appropriate ways to diagnose and work with the client. Examples would be the DSM-V, Enneagrams, and the Meyers-Briggs Inventory.
While some practitioners adhere to their chosen framework without deviance, others use the frameworks to inform, but not dictate, what they do. In either case, a top-down approach inevitably involves applying some assumptions. If your framework has only square boxes, you will probably be looking for and asking about only what is in the square boxes. You risk missing entirely what’s outside the boxes, especially if your client isn’t consciously aware of it.
A bottom-up approach
Grove believed that to help a client learn about and help himself, he is best off working from the bottom up, that is, starting from scratch. No predetermined boxes. The facilitator encourages the client to expand his self-awareness by helping him find fundamental self-definitions: Who am I? What do I know? What do I want? What needs to change for me to get what I want? These are broad, generic questions that provide no implicit answers.
David Grove determined to make as few assumptions as possible in the way he worked. His guiding intention was to work with the client’s own content only, trusting that the client would find for himself what he needs.
Equal information employers
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Grove’s Clean processes is they are designed to work with whatever the client offers up, regardless of the kind or source of information. They are what Grove called “equal information employers.” Information may come from the past or the present or be oriented to the future. It can be a feeling, a thought, a belief, a behavior, or a gesture. It can be an image, a metaphor, or a sound. Its relevance may not be immediately obvious to you or the client. But with patience and trust in the process and in the client, what is needed will emerge.