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Meet James & Penny

James and Penny

We are Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, co-developers of Symbolic Modelling and leading authorities on the use of self-originated metaphor for personal and professional development.

Our book, Metaphors in Mind is a comprehensive guide to our approach which we demonstrate in a DVD, A Strange and Strong Sensation.

 Our aim is to facilitate people to see the repeating patterns in their lives, to recognize how these patterns can change, and to trust in the subsequent unfolding of their spirit.

We run The Developing Company, are married, and are based in London.

For a listing of our articles see:


What we do and what we’ve done

We are supervising psychotherapists registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy since 1993. We have a private practice and teach Symbolic Modelling to therapists, counsellors, coaches, managers and teachers throughout the world.

We offer consultancy to organisations as diverse as GlaxoSmithKline and The University of Yale Child Study Center. We have used the process to facilitate a wide range of groups and teams: from the NASA Goddard Space Center in Washington DC to the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Northern Scotland.

We have featured on the BBC Radio 4 programmes Word of Mouth and Metaphor for Healing in a special ‘clean’ edition of the South African journal New Therapist, see Polished Verse.

In 1991 we established (with Sandra Ridolfi and John Goldman) the Central London NLP Practice Group which has met every Tuesday since then and is now run by other volunteers.

We helped found the Association for NLP (UK)’s Psychotherapy and Counselling Section in 1992 — the first NLP organisation recognised by UKCP, the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy – which has since become an independent body NLPtCA, the Neuro-Linguistic Psychotherapy and Counselling Association. We are both active members and James has held several leadership roles.

In the last few years James was lead trainer on the Northern School of NLP‘s two-year Psychotherapy Diploma which prepares NLP Master Practitioners for accreditation with NLPtCA and subsequent registration with UKCP. We have also been involved in some interesting modelling projects which we have published on our web site: of clown trainer Vivian Gladwell; of leading NLP’er and master modeller Robert Dilts; a number of facilitators who are excellent at systemic outcome orientation and modelling the written word.

One of our most important contributions has been the establishment of The Developing Group in 1997. It’s a regular gathering of practitioners of Symbolic Modelling and other elaborations of David Grove’s work. Since October 2001 the group has been a venue for the testing of our latest developments. The majority of the notes we have provided as background reading are available on this site.

We have been awarded Life Time Membership of CANLP, the Canadian Association NLP “in recognition of their valuable contribution” and were appointed the first Honorary Certified Trainers of INLPTA, the International NLP Trainers Association for a “significant contribution to the expansion of NLP”. More recently AOCS, the Association Of Coaching Supervisors have made both of us honorary members.