Provocative Therapy Created by Frank Farrelly
This site is the central resource for Provocative Therapy, created by Frank Farrelly. When Frank passed away in 20111, he entrusted me with his archive of Provocative Therapy material, dating back to the 1970s. This archive consists of literally hundreds of audio recordings, unpublished articles, radio interviews and other material. All the material on this site is copyrighted to this site and should not be reproduced without express permission to ensure that this remains the central resource for Provocative Therapy taught in the spirit that Frank intended. Anyone seeking training in Provocative Therapy would be advised to check that it is taught in the way that Frank intended with “a twinkle in the eye and from the heart”
Nick Kemp (Founder of The Association for Provocative Therapy)
Who was Frank Farrelly?
Frank Farrelly gained international recognition as a profoundly gifted therapist. He was the author of several publications including Provocative Therapy (with Jeff Brandsma). He presented numerous workshops, seminars, and demonstrations of his work for professional audiences throughout the United States, Europe and Australasia. His expertise in working with severely disturbed clients made him an especially interesting and important teacher.
Provocative Therapy was developed in an inpatient ward as Farrelly, dissatisfied with his effectiveness as a therapist, began to explore new procedures for promoting significant, resilient change in chronic and recalcitrant patients. He worked in this institutional setting for 17 years, continuing to develop and refine his techniques.
Frank held a Masters Degree in Social Work from Catholic University and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. For many years he was a clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Social Work and an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Medical School.
This brilliant therapist was described by one of his clients as “The kindest, most understanding man I have ever met in my whole life, wrapped up in the biggest son of a bitch I have ever met.”
What People said about Frank & Provocative Therapy
Frank always spoke his mind but always had time to listen to those genuinely interested in helping others. His insights into human behaviour were quite extraordinary and he always maintained that client sessions were always conducted “as if talking to an old friend with a twinkle in the eye and warmth in the heart”. As Frank passed away on Feb 10th 2013 in the early hours, that twinkle which had helped so many, departed from this world. He will be missed by dear friends, professional colleagues and clients alike. Below are numerous testimonials and good wishes from those who knew him over the decades. These have now been incorporated into this central site and are detailed below starting with my own thoughts.
Testimonials and well wishes from colleagues
Frank was a brilliant therapist light years ahead of his time. He also became a true friend or as Frank would say “good buddy”. We spent many hours together in person and by phone. He had a great love of people and had an innate curiosity into many areas of life including new technology, politics, movies, music, spirituality, great cuisine as well as many other subjects. Frank was a walking, talking totally congruent example of his Provocative Therapy approach which he created in the 1960s. I was lucky enough to spend considerable time with him since 2004 both in workshops as well as when he stayed at our house in the UK. We would hang out watching movies and talk about client behaviours as well as the world at large. He always referred to my wife as “Dr Sweet Sue” and we have countless fond memories from his many trips to the UK. Frank was exactly the same whether presenting a workshop or having a one to one discussion. He always spoke of “provocative communication” as being like “talking to an old friend with a twinkle in the eye and warmth in the heart”. Both Sue and I will miss him dearly. As far as I am concerned, he was without doubt the smartest and kindest guy I have ever had the privilege to meet.
I first met Frank 20 years ago! One of my associates said “You have to go and see this guy – he is crazy – he told me I was dragging my knuckles on the floor like a gorilla!” I could see where Frank was coming from! So I went and I even had a one on one with him which stays in my memory to this day and in my life! And so my journey of study with him started. Frank was a flirt of the highest order, that twinkle in his eye, that flattery .. it got him everything.. I saw him in hotels and restaurants have all the women (and the men) running around after him like headless chickens.. The last time I had a one on one with him.. I prepared for it having modelled him for years, I anticipated what he would do if I brought issue no 1 and then I anticipated what he would do if I brought issue no 2 so I was ready or so I thought! I sat in the chair with him. “What’s the issue SuziQ?” he asked with that mischievous look on his face, tapping me on the arm as he questioned me. I told him about the 2 issues. “Let’s deal with the 3rd!!! I didn’t remember much after that! That is the genius of Frank Farrelly. I worked, played and loved him for 20 years. He often spoke of his family ‘on the other side’. I guess he is having one hell of a party now. Oh Frank I am going to miss you …
We talk about being “infected with the provocative virus”, and when it happens to you, you can’t go back to serious therapy. I was first infected way back in 1986 when I attended my very first workshop with Frank. I was intrigued by the way I saw him working with clients. Then when I volunteered to go on stage I was astounded by how completely he understood me, in seconds, not minutes. And I was enveloped in the healing warmth, acceptance, and love which radiated out from him. It felt like coming home. Like I WAS home. And I had a front row seat at my own personal comedy show where I was the central character! It was deeply personal, profoundly moving, and incredibly healing. I knew I needed more of what Frank had to offer, so I jumped at the chance to work with him every chance I got, became coordinator of his Australian workshops, travelled to Madison regularly to study with him, and attended his international workshops and gatherings.
Through Frank I soon met others with the same twisted sense of humour and became members of a worldwide Provocative Family with Frank as our great patriarch. Some years back we decided to form an international society for Provocative Therapy. Frank immediately dubbed it the Intergalactic Society for the Advancement of Truth, Sex, Money and Provocative Therapy! He could never allow us to create a group without poking fun at it, to protect us from becoming too serious. Too entrenched. Too mainstream. Too establishment. Like all families, we have our dysfunctions. And Frank, our provocative father, as David Lake says, was both the “good Dad” and the “bad Dad”. I experienced him as both. Which means we had a real relationship. Frank always said, “life is hot, sticky, and wet”. Life is messy. He built his reputation on being able to work with the messiest, most difficult stuff of all with all kinds of people. And he showed us all that just because life is messy, doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun!
How often do you get the chance to be with and work with a creative genius with unique skills? Someone who will open his heart to you at the same time and keep doing that as you meet him again? A man who sees clearly and has a hot line to reality and the world as it is. With unforgettable jokes, songs and laughter surrounding him like a happy mist. A complex, flawed man who was the most powerful healer and unforgettable presence I have ever met (and I have met quite a few). People talk about force but Frank lived in it. Breathed it. Used it for the good of others. Me for one. And for many years. I always found I understood Frank in a way I still cannot explain rationally. I was seduced at once in 1886 and never recovered. Frank is sitting in my inner world right next to my parents and mentors. But he has his own special place because he overlaps everybody in a strange way. I know he is in a good place now because he showed me that place himself. My life is full for having known him. I wonder what it would have been like without his influence? Not nearly so wonderful, that’s for sure. I might have never met my partner in Provocative crime, Steve Wells. And the timely, life-changing sessions I had in the 1980’s and 1990’s with Frank helped me to be a man and a partner in ways I had never thought about. I credit Frank entirely with teaching me directly about how to be a good husband. (My wife did the other part indirectly through her unique love and affection.) I can bring up so many happy memories of drinking and eating and laughing in every kind of restaurant and bar with Frank and company. Sitting in Frank’s house in Madison just soaking up the ‘vibe’ of his house and private momentos. And outrageous ridiculous images from all of Frank’s modules crowding in to any thinking I do. And perceiving his love and affection even when things were dark for him, or when you failed to follow Rule # 379 of the Farrelly cleaning routine. I remember washing up with Frank in a kitchen in Aachen as a favour to our hostess. He joined me very reluctantly. Only after we had finished the whole big job did we find out that the sink drained out onto the floor under the cupboard. Frank blamed me of course; I couldn’t stop laughing!! This website might be a good place to post some of the more bizarre events that I have witnessed in the spreading of Provocative Therapy since knowing Frank. I’m sure the German contingent could fill an encyclopedia. Steve Wells and I are finishing a book on PET, mostly about Provocative Style, and it is full of many of Frank’s best lines and quips. Here are a few (a very small selection) “I pray God gives me the strength to see the world as the patient sees it. To see what God sees in ‘you’. Beyond empathy” “I can do therapy as long as the body is warm” “Let’s just play. Going in circles gives the illusion of progress” “You’ve got your nuts in the wringer and she’s holding the handle!” Client: “Can you hypnotise me to lose weight? Frank: “Sure” Client: “Well, go ahead” Frank: “No— I don’t care what you weigh!” “Stick with me honey, I’ll have you farting through silk!” I loved Frank such that I always thought he would live forever. I am utterly grateful to the man for all he has done for me, and so that I can now do the same for others. I took him for granted like the sun, until Steve and I visited him in Madison last year during his illness. Then I knew I was wrong. Now it has come to pass. He often impressed me as deeply thoughtful about spiritual devotion (and his New Testament)but often poked fun at others spouting religious words. So, I won’t say anything else right now except to add the end lines from Euridyce, by Edith Sitwell: “Love is not changed by death, And nothing is lost And all in the end is harvest” Until we meet again (and you are buying me whatever beer they drink in Heaven) David Lake (Big Dave)
Dr Susan E
I will never forget the time I was lucky enough to spend with Frank,recording him singing religious “classics”in York Minster crypt,and in Fountains Abbey,aswell as buying underpants with him in Marks and Spencers when his suitcase had gone astray.(Truly wondrous) He was hilarious,warm,loving,kind,and acutely astute, noticing and really paying attention to those around him,wether that be in or out of a therapy session.I learnt so much from him which I will always treasure.I am very pleased this site exists to share our thoughts and thank you to all of you who have posted and are yet to post,your tributes are lovely,thank you.I look forward to continuing to study archive material of Frank at work.He has given the world a treasury of insight and tools to use.He is deeply missed. He always said that being needed and useful is good for people-he was completely congruent with that, delighting in all of our successes and acheivments. Thank you to Kim who made it possible for us to continue to enjoy him for so many years.
Yvonne Van dyck
Dear Frank RIP although I guess you wont rest 😉 but instead you will make tha angels smlie and for sure also June. For me you are always in my heart. thank you for all the great moments and insights you gave me. I hear your “hallo Liebling” You were and are an inspiration for me and sooo many people around the world! You are wonderful. I will never forget the moments when I thought somebody of vienna is calling and it was you! You surprised me so often and you walked your talk. Even in bad times you had your sense of humor. When your wife June died, when you were so ill, still you made others smile. THANK YOU dear frank and I know your spirit guides you whereever there is laughter and you will multiply it.
It was an honour and a privilege to have met and trained with you. Meeting you and having you work with me on stage is a memory I will treasure forever. Your brilliance as a therapist as well as your kindess and warmth will be greatly missed.
Friends of mine had met Frank at a conference and said “Doug, you gotta meet this guy, he’s as nuts as you!” I read his book and went to see him at a conference in Carlis PA in 1984. Somehow I got the guts to go up front as one of Frank’s “demonstration dummies” and have never been the same since. I sat down and pushed my chair slightly away from him, at which point he reached over, grabbed the leg of the chair, yanked me closer and said “Get up here in the therapy boy!” It was all down hill from there!!! Right after that I signed up to go Madison WI to spend a week in Frank’s practice. Never have I met a professional who was so welcoming and inviting. I was encouraged to join into sessions as they developed, and believe me it took a little time to accept that from my point of view. Who else would have given me such a chance? It was slow at first; but finally in a session Frank was luring our victim into his trap. The unknowing entity finally said “I wish that (something or other that I don’t remember.” Frank laughed that laugh we all know and said “I wishes were horses paupers would fly.” At which point I suddenly (and without my own knowledge of what I wa doing) looked at Frank and said (as I remember it) “You know Frank, my mother would have said to me at this point, ‘Doug, wish in your right hand and shit in your left hand and clap them together. See which you get the most of!!!'” Frank went into hysteria at that point and we began having having fun for the rest of the week. The single thing I learned from Frank, that has always remained central for me, was that without a grain of humor in your approach you’ll never get anywhere. Seriousness is inevitable in our business; but it is the humor that lifts us (and others) out of the hole. I thank you for that Frank and I in turn hope I can pass such things onto other as well. And BTW, I can never forget that day he picked me up at the hotel on his motorcycle. Imagine, flitting about Madison Wisconsin on Frank Farelly’s motorcycle!!! Hey Frank, that really was just a little bit of heaven.
Frank was, above all, a gentleman. Of course, he was a wonderful therapist: always totally focussed on being in the service of the client. I learned from him that people aren’t as fragile as I’d supposed, that it was not only OK but advantageous to use humour, and, crucially, that it was more important for a client to get the change they wanted than for the client to like me. The two sessions I’ve had with him have made a huge impact and directly contributed towards my well-being and happiness, and I will always be grateful for them and for the healing he gave me. I had the good fortune to spend leisure time with Frank too and what a blessing and a joy that was. Wherever he went, he would find out – and remember – the names of waiters, waitresses, reception staff, and charmed all of them. Frank was always very clear about what he wanted and needed – coffee HOT, tea with lemon, DON”T touch the cup, only the handle – what a great lesson for me and for many others as well in asking for what we want. I was thrilled to have him as a house guest: the rest of my family fell in love with him immediately. We all felt very privileged to look after this loving, kind, warm man. We couldn’t keep up with him though – he was up all night watching movies long after our bedtime – God knows what he was like when he was younger. Getting him out of the house or a hotel room on time was like herding cats, but Caroline Loveridge (Sister Dimples) and I got pretty adept at it and were not above bullying him affectionately when time was tight: I think he secretly enjoyed it. Thanks to Nick’s excellent work, Frank’s work continues and we can still hear and see him on film and audio. I’ve been listening to him reading Me and God again this week: it’s very beautiful. Well, that’s enough – blah blah blah and stuff like that as Frank would say. How fitting that he and June are reunited for Valentine’s Day.
When I first experienced Frank “live and in colour” on February, 15th in 1990 for five days in an godforsaken little village close to the Czech border where the Intensive Seminars took place in former times (no, it was not the end of the world, but you could see the end of the world from there!), I thought “ach du scheiße – what’s that? Therapy?” Five days of flirting, laughing, lightness and playing… the German seriousness, Angst and Weltschmerz could fly out of the window. The start for a long and happy road was made: resurrection of the deads for me and my clients in therapy and a wonderful relationship to Frank. He brought together all the people he liked and he is the father of so many marvellous friendships in our big PT-Family over all continents. He named the group “The Intergalactic Society for the Advancement of Truth, Sex, Money and Provocative Therapy” during our meeting in Aachen in 1997, after some beers and wines and the legendary towel party…. Lots of memories, quotes and jokes in our daily lives will keep him alive and I feel the same as Dave, Frank is sitting in my inner world next to my parents and what they all gave me on my way is a precious mixture. Frank and I fooled around creating nonsense-French sentences like “à votre sanitaire” , “au reservoir”, “je me Bocuse”and later he cited me always in Paris (“no, it’s not ‘à votre santé’, it’s ‘à votre sanitaire’, Elke Borchardt told me so!”). He loved the German chandler markets; for half a day he could browse around and pick out funny, rare and extraordinary (and cheap!) stuff like nine or ten various caps and brushes and his striped suspenders with the German or Bavarian flag on. And he also loved doing supervisions with me, when I role-played my clients (here’s a little clip: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1717436/frank_farrelly_treating_anxiety_problems) Very often we looked immediately afterwards at all the actual recordings, even if it took us another two hours and my husband wanted to kill us because we were too late for dinner, Franks favourite dish: the traditional lamb stew. Remembrance is the only paradise from which we cannot be expelled (Jean Paul). Thank you Frank.
I remember the first time I met Frank, he was larger than life and what impressed me most was how passionate he was about the people he was helping. Like a big friendly kind grizzly bear. While filming and photographing him I was lucky enough to get to know him as a friend and not just a client. I saw him as much more than the founder of PT. Creating PT was an amazing thing to do, but I found out there was a lot more to Frank. He had a great sense of humor and even when he was teasing or cajoling it was done from kindness. We had many a conversation off the record and it became clear he was very interested in life and the bigger picture. I fondly remember speaking to him about his experiments into the paranormal and spiritual, and of course he had come from a religious background too. But that was the point you could talk to Frank about anything and you’d always get an enthusiastic and genuine response. Over the years we talked from time to time and he was like an uncle, always glad to hear good news and always “rooting for ya”. By chance I was talking with Frank last week and he was asking about ways he could use technology to broadcast trainings over the web. To the very end he had a drive and desire to reach out to people and help people. I also remember talking to him a while ago and he was saying he missed his wife and so I hope he’s at peace now. Rather than focus on loosing him, I want to remember all the good he did and all the amazing memories. Rest in Peace Frank.
I will remember. The workshop, the emotional shifts which Frank gave me, and push to further polish my provocative skills. And bear which we drank together at night after workshop. The great people are easily recognized as great, by their empowering of us. His experience were tremendous comparing to such young people’s as me and many of my friends. And he still was eager, not only to provoke, but simple to give a good word whenever it was possible. He influenced me as a professional, as an author and as a person. I was changed by him, inspired by his actions and I will remember him as a great person, he was.
After having been well and truly infected by the ‘Provocative Virus’, I sought out and managed to meet Frank just twice at workshops in Leeds, experiences I treasure and learned so much from. I had one to one’s with him both times within the workshops. The first time I stepped up to sit with him I felt myself enter this big powerful healing energy field, two or three metres before I got to the chair. Fell in love with him immediately and felt totally safe, cared for and understood. He looked right into my life and I surrendered immediately! During the second session a year later there was a moment when he said something like: ‘Ruth and I go back a long way’ and he turned to Nick saying ‘How long have I known Ruth?’ Well we had only met once before but sitting down with Frank felt so comfortable and so familiar, it seemed like we had known each other for years! I am so glad we met and I had the unique experience of being his client, and that gorgeous feeling of being held in a space of total acceptance, big truthful fun and hilarious laughter. Good to know you, Frank.
It is so hard to say anything. I had the honour meeting Frank only once in Leeds and saw some of his videos. He seemed to me like an evergreen guy even at the age of 80. He smiled all the time at least with his eyes and made everybody laugh even on serious life issues. HE was unique in many ways. Even his bizarr suggestions were love based. He had no fear to question taboos. He has been a great trainer and master of his field. He left a big emptyness and many of us will miss him a lot.
Frank – such a lovely, caring, funny, quick, insightful, passionate, spirited, brilliant, energising, uplifting, creative guy. I can’t even think how he might respond to such a description – but I know it would make me laugh. And then later, probably stop to think…. The world, as they say, glows a little dimmer at his passing.
All of us around the world, who had the pleasure of knowing Frank in our own ways,for however long that was for,( and for some it was decades, whilst for myself it was only a relatively few years),wont be able to meet together in person to say goodbye to Frank,so to have the opportunity to meet and talk here is so lovely. Thank you to everyone who has shared their treasured memories together here,it has really helped me, and I hope everyone else who has looked and posted too. I look forward to Franks work continuing from strength to strength, and hearing about how everyone who has been influenced by him,and already uses his work, and who has developed and integrated his work into their work,and has been, and is, and will be, helping people all around the world with either Provocative Therapy or further developments of Franks work,gets on. Frank always described helping people as “Gods work”.He didnt always receive the appreciation he deserved in my opinion,and was undoubtedly way ahead of his time. I am only glad there are many people all around the world who do appreciate his work,and who cared deeply about him as a person.Its a pleasure to meet ,and get to know you all, and to learn from you too.love, Sue
I remember Frank from the early 1980s when I was about 12 years old. My Mom (Noni Höfner) brought him home to us one day, totally fascinated by him and his work. From that point on he was with us a lot, staying in our house for days – sometimes weeks – when he was doing workshops in and around Munich. As long as she was able to, his lovely wife June was staying with him. I was fascinated by him from the start, not because he was some famous therapist from the United States, but because he was Frank. – For me he was the funny, observing and warm-hearted person, who brought me tons of tapes with oldie music every time he visited us. – For me he was the guy cursing in a very loud voice every time he almost fell down the stairs stumbling over my brothers‘ or my stuff on his way to the guestroom in our house. – For me he was the one who opened my mind to healings, telling me lots of stories about on whom he put his hands to send healing energies through their bodies and made them feel better. – For me he was the one we once spent New Year with in the very cold Madison, Wisconsin, sleeping in his office between the computers and partying with a bunch of his wonderful and crazy friends. – For me he was the one who told me about how he was able to make contact to people who had died. It was scary, but also very fascinating. – For me he was the one who was sitting in our living room dictating the words of his book „Me and God“ into a little voice recorder, and me typing these words into the computer afterwards. I was laughing and crying while I was typing his words down. I was touched. – For me he was the one who I accidentally tried my first provocative interventions on making him laugh out loud saying „You got me again!“ And so on, and so on…..He gets very alive in my head when I think about all this again now! It was wonderful. He was wonderful. I am very grateful that I had the chance to spend so much time with him. I love and believe in his work, and I will try to spread it as far as I can as long as I live. As I have done for quite some time already. Frank, have fun whereever and with whomever you are right now! Let‘s keep in touch! Love.
I am very sad to hear that Frank has “crossed over” as he liked to say. I had the privilege, for more than 12 years, to translate him whenever he conducted his seminars in Germany, that Noni Höfner of the German Institute for PT organized regularly. Initially, it was quite challenging to meet his expectations of a good, therapeutically effective translation: It had to be done using comparatively powerful language in German as he would use in English, i.e. full of colloquialisms and at times more than just graphically explicit – “if you know what I mean.” That way, over the years, I learned from him what the magic of rapport combined with a loving heart, a twinkle in the eye and the candor to say “what really is” can achieve in the human context of change – a skill that I still profit from a lot in my own profession as change consultant and leadership developer. I do sincerely hope that his work has inspired and prepared sufficient numbers of similarly caring PT practitioners so that his method will continue to live on to help many more people cope with their personal challenges. Good bye, Frank.
I remember having dinner with Frank after one of his trainings. What a special honour. Funny, smart and massively hearted man, who’ll be missed by many. He made all of us drink vodka with sorbet – good times! Then the following day threatened to shove a red hot poker…… Classic Frank. Sleep deep friend,
Since Frank crossed over on February 10th, I have been overflowed with memories. I would like to share some with you, because they show, how lovabale and human Frank was. This list is far away from being complete, just a quick input (in my broken English, that Frank never corrected, because he loved it and was amused by my Germanisms). And I apologize in advance, that my memories carried me away and my text file became much too long. ■ I first met Frank 1985 on one of his first workshops in Europe. The rumour went out, that Frank was a wild clinician from the United States with a totally crazy new therapy. I wanted to get to know this therapy, because people also said, that laughter was a core item of it. So I attended this workshop and watched Frank carefully. First I sat in the second row, but after the first module I sat in front of the first row on the floor in order not to miss one word or gesture. I was fascinated, shocked, enthousiastic and immediately on the hook. After I had seen Frank „insult“ clients and hear them giving the feedback, that they had never felt so warmly accepted and understood before in their whole life, I said to Frank in the break: „I do not understand this, you insult people, and they feel happy. There must be something more!“ – „Yes, there is something more!“ he said with a smile. ■ After I had met Frank for the first time, I absolutely knew, that I wanted to learn all of his new therapy. So I tried to get in contact with him. I wrote him a letter, to my delight he answered, and then he sent me a tape-letter. It contained 60 to 90 minutes of talk. Frank obviously had carrried a recorder around and shared with me thoughts, associations, ideas in an unsystematic mix. I loved these tapes and sent him tapes back, but of course my tapes were much less charming than his, because I tried to talk systematically about special topics. When we moved to our new house in 2010, I found in our archives the box with at least 40 of Franks tapes. As we had the ambition not to move with all the stuff we had gathered in more than 30 years, I destroyed them and threw them away, thinking who would ever listen back to that stuff, recorded in an oldfashioned way? Oh sh…, I cannot tell you how much I regret this and it is only a small comfort, that Frank would have wanted me to act exactly in this way. ■ Frank and – as long as she still travelled with him, also June – lived in our house in between workshops when Frank was in Europe. He called our house „his home away from home“. He then sat in what he called „casual clothes“ (we called it underwear) at the table in our living room, always reading – books, newspapers, magazines etc.. When he got the chance to get hold of somebody, he loved to read out loud what he found interesting, and start a discussion, no matter if you just had time for him or not. ■ One night, after a very successful workshop, Frank, my husband Dietsch and I emptied a bottle of „Grappa con Miele“, which Farnk loved very much. This made us happier and happier as well as louder and louder. In the end, at two o´clock in the morning, I tried to calm Dietsch and Frank a little down, because I had pity with our poor neigbours (we lived in a semi-detached house). The effect was, that the two guys did not stop singing as loud as they could: „they have no chaaaaance at all, they have no chaaaaance at all“, stumbling up and down the staircase and enyoing life remarkably. All of us, also Frank, never again wanted to drink a drop of Grappa con Miele. ■ I am a lousy housekeeper, and the only thing I manage to do in the kitchen is making our own bread. I do this since decades. It is a very crunchy, hard bread with lots of corns and nuts in it. When Frank first tried it for breakfast, he called it „cobblestones“ – and he loved it. The next day he said: „When I eat our American bread, I shit tiny pebbles like a rabbit, but after a cobblestone I shit like an elephant!“ Since then our bread is named cobblestone and even our little grand-children, who do not know any English, call it that way. ■ One day we went to a restaurant we knew well, and Frank asked Dietsch in a low voice, where the toilet was. „But don´t point!“, he said strictly. This immediately spurred Dietsch into action, he pointed with a large arm across the restaurant and said loudly: “There, you go across the room and than you turn left!“ Frank burried his face in his hands, moaning and laughing. Since then, whenever somebody wants to know where the toilet is, Dietsch says at once: „But don´t point!“. ■ My education was very academic and I had no access to what you would call psychic stuff. Frank opened my mind to that. He did it in such a normal, down to earth way, that I was not able any more to be close towards it. I had several very impressive experiences with Franks mental healings or when he made contact to dead people. One of the most mysterious events was when he came into contact with my younger sister, who had died in 1969 at age 14, and he described her so clearly, that it sent chills up and down my spine. Still does, when I think about it.
I am very privileged to have met Frank and many of the wonderful people who pay tribute to his work here. Frank is an enigma in the field of therapy, a zen master, a bodhisattva of crazy wisdom – he had already left the building before you realised he had been there. A man of wonderful charm, delightful absurdity, tenacious resolve and fearless advocacy. I am very grateful to have been one of his students. I still don’t yet feel that my heart is big enough to embrace the level of humility and compassion that I feel is needed to work within his legacy. I am very grateful to those who have been touched by the spirit of his genius and who work to make it accessible to a much wider and wiser audience.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown… My daddy used to say, ‘Oh king, how long?’, when he was sick and tired of putting up with something… Did you have any reactions towards me?” Oh yes for sure, thank you so much!
I was very sad to the news about Frank’s passing. I feel very fortunate to have not only been given the opportunity to attend some of his trainings in the UK and to be on the receiving end of him using Provative Therapy but also to have been able to spend some time with him outside of the training. Frank was always very amusing and great company, clever, insightful and very very quick witted. He had the feel of someone that I would have happily considered to be an honorary grand father. Wise, nurturing, playful and light hearted but also stern when necessary although never criticising. The twinkle in his eye made you feel safe and cared for even if he was lampooning an aspect of an individual’s behaviour. I must thank Frank for all he taught me and Nick Kemp for giving me the opportunity to meet and train with Frank also working with him on the first Provocative therapy DVD set. Frank’s twinkle may have left this world but his sprit will live on in the hearts, minds and attitudes of those who were lucky enough to meet him. R.I.P Frank, thank you for what you have given us. Paul Wright
Frank Farrelly devised an utterly original way of helping people, an innovative way as American as apple pie and Mark Twain . It is so original that it probably shouldn’t really be called ‘therapy’ at all because psychotherapy is usually associated with analyzing the past, ‘taking responsibility for the unconscious’ and generally ‘understanding’ why we find ourselves in the place we are. Provocative Therapy is clear in its aim to change the client’s behaviour – for the betterment of the patient’s psychological wellbeing of course. Frank Farrelly’s Provocative Therapy is grounded in the solid ethos of Roger’s Client Centred Therapy (where Frank started) but uses humour and reverse psychology to add tremendous diesel to the rather lifeless Rogerian methodology. The power of the approach would be quite dangerous without the observation of the Golden Rule of Provocative Therapy – ‘affection in the heart and a twinkle in the eye’. However, the observing of that rule (very Rogerian) combined with the dynamism of the spectacularly energised paradoxical approach, presents us with an original and highly effective way of helping people deal with a huge spectrum of issues. The contrarian methodology of Provocative Therapy has a precedent in history in the concept of the benign Court Jester using humour to help a monarch feel better about life but Frank’s approach made us all feel sovereign. His understanding of what was happening in a patient drew on many sources. Where other systems were useful in helping him understand a patient, he acknowledged them and showed us the sheer breadth of his wisdom and knowledge. However when it came to actual treatment, the approach was original, powerful and incredibly effective. Provocative Therapy even transcended time itself. All Provocative Therapists know that you may do your best work in the first 15 minutes of the first consultation. And that may even be enough! Just one gentle shock, one catalytic remark or one therapeutic joke might be enough to provoke a meaningful Aha! Moment in a client’s life. Frank Farrelly saw many people experience such life-changing moments and then go on to prescribe their own solutions to their problems – the overall goal of Provocative Therapy. I became a doctor because I wanted to work with people and be useful if possible. Nobody presented me with a finer tool to do this than Frank Farrelly. I remember the first time I saw him talk and demonstrate Provocative Therapy in the Summer of 1996. Up until then, I knew what I wanted to achieve with my patients but not how to do it. On seeing Frank Farrelly in action, there were tears in my eyes because I knew I was in the presence of something special and that a new journey would open up in front of me. Nearly 17 years later I can confirm the truth of that. For many of us Frank Farrelly will live on in our hearts. When we see a patient respond to his unique approach, we will remember his smile (so beautifully shown in the photograph above) and who can prove that wherever he is now, he won’t be laughing with us ?
Having never met him before, I wasn’t sure which of the arriving passengers milling about in the baggage claim area of New York’s LaGuardia airport he would be. “Excuse me. Are you Mr. Farrelly?” “Yes, I am. You must be Doug. Call me Frank.” Within minutes he was embarked upon an amusing anecdote regarding an experience with his luggage he’d once had when traveling to Germany. That story segued into more funny stories about cultural differences between the Germans and the Americans. I actually don’t think we (he) stopped talking very much from that point forward. It felt like I’d just reconnected with my favorite uncle, there was such ease between us. As brilliant as he was, I think–most of all–Frank was a genuine, nice man. He was genuinely nice, yes, but I mean he was both genuine and nice. He also seemed to genuinely like people and treated everyone with his wonderful guileless, open attitude. When we checked in at his hotel on W. 27th street in Manhattan, he started telling a story about his mother to the clerk at the counter that must have gone on for at least 10 minutes. I honestly couldn’t tell if the clerk was just being polite and humoring Frank, because he had seemed very busy, or whether he also was under Frank’s spell. He certainly stood there smiling and listening the whole time, I can tell you that. More hotel clerks arrived to check in other guests who had been standing in line while Frank spoke. When I was told about Provocative Therapy almost 30 years ago, it seemed like an extension of all that crazy stuff I’d heard about NLP’s Richard Bandler doing. I was fascinated at the prospect of understanding more about how such an approach could really work so I went out and bought the book myself. It was a revelation. Provocative Therapy really seemed to turn the whole world of therapy on its head. One thing confused me though, the book’s copyright was 1974. It would appear that this Farrelly fellow couldn’t have been inspired by Bandler because Provocative Therapy predated NLP. Could it be simply a coincidence? I never heard Bandler speak of him. Fast forward 20 years. It was my good fortune to meet and become friends with Nick Kemp, an NLP Trainer from Leeds. One day, when we were chatting, Nick starts talking about Provocative Therapy. I say, “Yes! I loved that book.” Nick tells me he had brought Frank Farrelly over to England to do LIVE seminars on Provocative Therapy. He’s still alive? And doing seminars? Amazing! It was like hearing that J.D. Salinger was giving a lecture somewhere. I felt a strong pull to look into doing that too. So in 2006, with Nick’s generous help, I contacted Frank and arranged to have him come to New York to do a seminar here. It worked out very well and, with the enthusiastic help of many volunteer’s, we put on a nice program we were able to video tape for posterity. Interestingly, nearly everyone who participated in an “interview” with Frank achieved their outcomes. The woman having trouble getting pregnant now has two children, the 50-something business executive who had been down sized and couldn’t find a job at his pay grade, got one. Maybe it was all a coincidence, but it’s a pretty good track record. The morning of the seminar as we were setting up the cameras and checking the microphones and do all the set up work, Frank was holding court, happily chatting and joking with the various participants. When the time came for us to officially start the proceedings and start the filming for the day, he announced to everyone he’d become so instantly close to, “OK. This is Doug. He’s going to introduce me.” After the laughter subsided there was really nothing more to say, so I just said, “Here’s Frank.” Frank was tireless and open and agreeable the entire visit. It was an honor and a privilege to have spent that time with him. I learned so much because everything I’d read in the book 20 years earlier had come alive while watching him work and also while watching him when not at work. I am so very pleased we have the videos of the event to contribute to the understanding of Frank’s work. I’m grateful to Nick Kemp not only for introducing me to Frank directly so I could produce that “Live in New York” seminar, but for essentially revitalizing Provocative Therapy for so many people, creating so many excellent recordings of Frank both audio and video and helping secure his legacy for generations to come. No wonder Frank called Nick the “Can-Do Kid.”
I had the privilege of spending a day with Frank Farrelly in 2007(Yeah. I had Frank all to myself for an entire day). The man seemed to have an answer for everything. But one has to remember that he lived a fearless and fascinating life. He had the gift to pulling you into his world and by the time the conversation was over, your point of view on the subject was never the same – there was noooo going back! His unique insights into matters of the mind and spirit were incredible. I learnt a lot from him that day. I discovered a few things about him that day as well: he loved his MAC – (the bigger the screen the better) – he loved guitars and he enjoyed singing and he had a great singing voice. What I really respected about him was this: That he never guarded his knowledge as if it were in limited supply; he was always sharing, imparting wisdom in abundance, the kind of information you don’t get in books. And he had one killer sense of humor. Spending that day with Frank made me realize that God broke the mold after he created Frank. There’s none, and will never be another like that guy! R.I.P. Mr. Farrelly! Contract!
I just found out Frank died and I am very sad. I trained with Frank in 1981 by going to spend one week with him in Madison, Wisconsin (at his “Parapatetic Training” seminar). Previously, I had attended one of Frank’s workshops in Kansas City, Missouri late in 1980 and volunteered to do a session. I was intrigued with how Frank worked and found his approach amazing, hypnotic, and life affirming. Frank, and his wife June, were amazing people … warm, down to earth, and nice to be around. Beneath his “gruff” exterior, Frank Farrelly had a huge heart of gold. I’ll miss Frank. Rest in Peace, Frank….you’ll be missed. Chris Eiel, Lincoln, Nebraska
Although Frank was a close friend for years, I have avoided adding anything in writing since he died in February. When I’d call Frank would say, “Oh Bobby, your voice is like a breath of fresh air. When are you coming down (I only live 150 miles northwest of Frank, in LaCrosse)”? So, Frank often treated me as a brother. And I know he genuinely loved me. But sometimes, when I stayed with him, I felt like I wasn’t there. So many sides of Frank..and thank God, so many people had a chance to be exposed to that creative genius dimension of this great man. And…there was an insensitive prick side of my buddy, too. That may be why I haven’t written until now. Bob Schneyer
Unfortunately I never had the opportunity of meeting Frank in person but watching him work with his clients was a mindblowing experience, specially for those unfamiliar with provocative therapy. I just want to pay tribute to this great icon by reminding you of what he said to a highly prestigious client: Guy: “Doc, I have a private problem which … I can not talk about!” Frank: “HMMM … SO IT JUST HANGS IN THERE LIKE A WET NOODLE HUH??!!”
4th February 2014 at 13:47 Валерий Леликов. 04.02. 2014. Русский язык, мой язык. Фрэнк говорил со мной на своих языках – на моих языках. В 1983 году родилась моя терапия Provocative metamerically-receptor osteopathy. Я знал я был уверен, что должна быть provocative therapy. В Москве мы встретились. Мир мой изменился благодаря Фрэнку. Психотерапия – терапия Фрэнка, он сам раскрыли для меня внутренний и окружающий мир-пир природы и человека. Я знаю жизнь, как она ткётся. Из чего состоит-соткана сама нить жизни. Фрэнк говорил, что он самый лучший терапевт спустившейся с небес за две тысячи лет. Это правда. В ответ я ему говорил, что я самый скромный инструмент Бога за последние пять тысяч лет. Он смеялся, хохотал до слёз. Валерий Леликов
Frank Farrelly in high school
Frank was also a keen musician and singer