David John Grove

                                                                                      Respectfully submitted by Dafanie Goldsmith


  The death of David J Grove   

   A tribute

Words from David's funeral service


  by DJ Grove


It is with great sadness I announce the death of  David Grove, originator of Clean Language, Clean Space and Emergent Knowledge, who died suddenly in the USA on January 8, 2008.  More details.


 Pioneering psychotherapist David Grove, who died suddenly in Kansas City at the age of 57, turned conventional therapy on its head during the 1980s.  

David had little interest in making a name for himself or even in making a living; he was entirely focused on developing healing processes. With complete disregard to his health, he lived a peripatetic existence delivering hundreds of workshops, seminars and personal healing retreats to over 40,000 people in the U.S., England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. His seminars were based on his own original work with resolving traumatic memories, healing the wounded child within and healing metaphors. 

He amassed a variety of equipment, like a 7 foot tall fairground whirligig in which he could further his cutting edge spatial experiments by turning people upside down and in all directions in between; this was towed behind him from one end of the UK to the other and was last seen in France. Workshops were always unpredictable because his insatiable curiosity took the lead over any advertised programme, but the results were invariably precise and original and occasionally spellbinding.  

Psychotherapist Ernest Rossi said of him: 

“A gentle genie has escaped from the lamp. His name is David Grove and his magic Clean Language”. 

While being sternly dedicated to his work, and not suffering anyone or anything to stand in the way of it, David could be a mischievous magician and was held in profound and indulgent affection by all who knew him because the gentle genie showed up in all sorts of kind gestures, like the infinite, painstaking, psychological help that was on offer to all comers, a shop for the soul that never closed. At his funeral, therapist James Lawley said: "If greatness is measured by a man’s compassion for others .... then David was a great man". 

The accepted methods of treating trauma 25 years ago were to encourage patients to ’desensitise’ by talking through their experiences; David, however, noticed that this often re-traumatised patients and instead listened to them describe their symptoms spontaneously in metaphor, for instance ‘it feels like a ton of bricks’, and found that exploring these metaphors alleviated their disorders. To encourage this process, David repeated patients’ own exact words back to them and developed a series of simple questions which would carry the least possible influence from the therapist. He named this technique ‘Clean Language’ because it honoured the patient’s experience, ideas and values without contaminating them with those of the therapist. His work stood on the shoulders of Jung’s in its use of symbols but a key difference is Grove’s discovery that the metaphor does not require interpretation, only exploration until it reaches a place of peace. Then the subject will find that phobias, internal struggles and limiting behaviour patterns of years have disentangled and become integrated with the whole person. David further developed his work spatially into  ‘Clean Space’ and ‘Emergent Knowledge’, where he applied the principles of the science of emergence to the human psyche. 

In the 1980'and 90's David’s work sustained its popularity following the establishment of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Therapists who had been in pursuit of uncovering early memories of childhood abuse found themselves accused of progenerating the memories. Because David’s work was not to discover memory but rather to provide symptom relief, it left him clear of the enormous dispute that rocked psychotherapy at the time. 

He was supported by his former wife and colleague Cei Davies-Linn who contributed to his work. He presented a keynote at The International Symposium for Psychotherapists in London in 1986, with R.D.Laing and Isaac Marks, and spoke at.the American Association for the Study of Mental Imagery at the Medical College of Wisconsin, The London Society for Ericksonian Psychotherapy and Hypnosis, The Vietnam Veteran Administration, Augusta, Georgia, at conferences held by Virginia Satir, founder of the  Mental Research Institute for Brief and Family Therapies in Palo Alto California, and was close to Virginia Husband, Steve and Caril Lankton, Bill O'Hanlon, Dr Brian Roet and Charles Whitfield, author of ‘Healing the Child Within’ and ‘Memory and Abuse’ 

David was great friends with the playwright and author Willy Russell, author of ‘Shirley Valentine’,  and toured with the productions 'Words on the Run’ and ‘ The Wellingborough Bootleg'. 

Born in Tauranga, New Zealand of a Maori mother and European father, Grove took inspiration from his whakapapa (Maori genealogy) and ancestral teaching. He graduated from the New Zealand Universities of Canterbury and Otago before taking a masters in counselling psychology at the State University of Minnesota. He served as a consulting psychologist with the London Phobic Trust, and published a book with Basil Panzer called “Resolving Traumatic Memories” (1989 Irvington). His avant-garde approach took in learning from all aspects of life: systems theory, physics, ancient Greece, aviation and the web. He was able to synthesise these ideas into his work and emerge with spectacular new processes.   

The affection and regard with which he is held by those he reached are clear from many tributes posted on http://www.cleanforum.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Written by Carol Wilson



Was David Grove a Great Man?

If greatness is determined by the number of stories told about you,

then David Grove, you were a great man.

If greatness is determined by creativity and inventiveness,

then David Grove, you were a great man.

If greatness is determined by the number of people whose lives are touched and in whose memories you reside,

then David Grove, you were a great man.

If greatness is determined by generosity of spirit and the amount of knowledge given away, then David Grove, you were a great man.

If greatness is determined by compassion for the pain and suffering the human spirit can endure,

then David Grove, you were a great man.

If greatness is determined by one's optimism and expectation that people can heal and transform their lives,

then David Grove, you were a great man.

And, if greatness is determined by taking the path never travelled before

with courage and dignity knowing there is a price to pay to yourself and to your loved ones, then David Grove, you were truly a great man.

Excerpt from James Lawley's tribute  at David's funeral service  21 Jan 2008)



A brief  introduction to David J Grove MS

Many of you will be familiar with the techniques created by David Grove in Clean Language, which he  developed through Clean Space, Clean Worlds and Emergent Systems.


A  background -

Educated at the University of Canterbury,  David then received his graduate degree in Counselling Psychology in the United States of America. Since 1987  he has taught many thousands of therapists in the USA, England, Australia and New Zealand,  in his seminars and in presentations to health professionals.  David has worked with considerably with the Ericksonian model and with Strategic Family Therapies and his own work has focused on linguistically based techniques which enable therapists to access in formation contained in primary language forms and to facilitate experiential change in non- cognitive learning. His work and competency based training for mental health professionals and therapists is known extensively in both England and America and is approved by the American Psychological Association for Psychologists. David has given presentations at the invitation of the London Society of Ericksonian psychotherapy and Hypnosis and the royal Medical Society.  He has conducted personal healing retreats in England, Ireland, Australia, France and in New Zealand.


“A gentle genie has escaped from the lamp. His name is David Grove and his magic Clean Language”

Ernest Rossi


by David Grove

edited from talk given at a Clean Language Research Day in London, 13 November 1998


1. Clients have within themselves the ability to heal the psychological and somatic wounds of their biographical, ancestral and cultural past.

2. Symptoms are unsuccessful attempts by the mind and body to heal itself. Our job is to create a suitable context in which we can encourage symptoms to be successful.

Every negative symptom has within itself a deeply coded solution which will not only abate the initial presenting symptom, but will also contribute a confidently positive resource (which compensates the client's psychic economy for the negative effects of the symptom's habitation).

3. The therapist's role is to visit the client's model of the world and unfold solutions that are conducted within the language and logical boundaries of that world.

Most therapies, to a lesser or greater extent, introduce fictional constructs as an agency which disrupt the client's model of the world based on a therapist's training. Clean Language speaks to an internal evolutionary process as distinct from an external revolutionary overthrow of a client's symptomatic world.

4. Clean Language is information-centered.

It is neither client nor therapist-centered. To be client-centered means that the locus of therapy is going to the client's ego state, or is egocentric in nature. And to be therapist-centered means the questions come from a therapist's school of thought (as Maslow said, 'if all you have is a hammer, the only thing you'll see are nails.'). Whereas information-centered respects that information is sourced in a number of different places: semantically, somatically, spatially, and also temporally in biographical, ancestral and cultural time.


A. The nature of Clean Language is homeopathic: we are looking to language the minimal that excites the curious.

B. One purpose of Clean Language is the identification, gathering and embracing of symptoms. Whereas most therapeutic modalities see symptoms as negative and needing to be excised in the therapy, the art of Clean Language engages and interrogates symptoms until they confess their strengths.

C. The therapist ought to use questions that do not imply a client's answer should be restricted to a certain modality -- the worst offenders being 'How do you feel about that?' and 'What do you think?'.

D. A therapist's question should be formed in such a way as to not contaminate the client's model of the world with presuppositions inherent in the way a question is asked.

E. Normal dyadic discourse is OK for social conversation, but is not much given to the delivery of language as a healing art.

F. Clean Language encourages psychoactivity. It has the ability to recreate and construe context so that it becomes self healing. The healing experience occurs in real time -- not one that the client goes home to think about and then they change. If you get it right, it happens right there in front of you, and mostly it happens in the pauses between questions. Pauses are tremendous servants. They are response-inviting gaps in which psychoactivity takes place. This contrasts markedly with processes which engage cognizance.

G. Clean Language is hard for the therapist operationally and is easy for the client because it addresses the notion: "What's the next question the client would really like to be asked?" and it is a discipline of only using the client's lexicon.

H. In the delivery of Clean Language:

i. Acoustical parameters are of great importance (rhythm, tone, etc.)
ii. The definite article 'the' is left out.
iii. Most sentences start with 'and'.
iv. No proper names are used, and only personal pronouns after they have been introduced by the client.
v. Repetition is of a recursive form. Recursive in the sense of a spiral rather than a circle. Recursive thematically -- as Bach's variations which have a forward momentum. And part of that forward momentum is temporal, so the recursive nature of questions moves time forward. Repetition creates a protective temporal and spatial womb or matrix in which your job is to be a good midwife; to recognise and develop and assist in the birthing of new information which is born out of:

I. Clean Language recognises and gathers together all disparate kinds of information into an organising proximal landscape, or 'psychescape' which includes all the usual suspects (words, feelings, memories) and:

·         Dreams

·         Hallucinations

·         Obsessive-Compulsive phenomenology

·         Tics and traits

·         Superstitions

·         Values and all kinds of Spirituality

·         Personal cosmology

·         Cultural and social milieu

·         Ancestral affiliations

·         And those kinds of information that expand time

J. Physicality (the precise placement of questions within a client's psychescape) is an agency by which questions induce psychoactivity. Clean questions have a holographic virtual shape to them and have an 'oomph factor' which distinguishes them from other questions. If you don't have oomph, you don't got it. The oomph factor enhances psychoactivity and the oomph can be ascertained in a number of ways:

i. Because it's felt. The client feels it's the right question.
ii. It doesn't require cognition or repeating of the question.
iii. The client can always answer the question.
iv. The questions are closely coupled to the client's last statement or the logical consequence of the construct that has been invoked.

K. There is no such thing as a resistant client. There is such a thing as a therapist who doesn't know what to do with the client's response. If there is any resistance it's the client's way of training you how to ask a better question.

L. Clean language works with the intelligence between the lines.

M. Clean Language is deeply agreeable to the client's heart and soul.


                                                                                                                             Page updated 16th February 2008