Clean Language was originally devised by the therapist, David Grove. He discovered that as clients explored their internal metaphoric worlds, they reported that the symbols seemed to change and transform of their own accord, resulting in healing of the issues they were working on.
The metaphors we use in our language are generated by our unconscious/subconscious minds. We don’t carefully choose most of the metaphors in our speech: word choice in our native language is an unconscious process. The metaphors can therefore be used as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious minds. What is therapeutic about that? By becoming aware of our metaphors, we can (for example) become aware of patterns in our behaviour which have stopped serving us well, and find ways of changing which fit perfectly for us. Or we may find that the metaphors seem to change of their own accord, resulting in a change of thinking and a change in behaviour.
This is simply one view of how the process works. Asking, “What is therapeutic about Clean Language?” can actually touch the occasional nerve, since different practitioners in the field are not in complete agreement about why the process works.
David Grove himself did not like to refer to the unconscious or subconscious mind, for various reasons, so would not have subscribed to the description above. Penny Tompkins and James Lawley focus on the client’s self-modelling as the key to the process. Other Clean facilitators believe that what is therapeutic about the process is primarily the experience of being listened to, respectfully and attentively.