Client outbursts and client meltdowns

I blogged recently on www.provocativechangeworks.com about the challenges for provocative trainers when presenting this material. I was pleased to year from other PT trainers around the planet who echoed my observations from over the years!

I first saw Frank Farrelly in 2004 at a small training in the UK. This was a four day event and the attendees were really variable in skill level and from quite diverse backgrounds. There were essentially two groups, the experienced NLP folks and the feminist social workers. Over the four days in the breaks it became increasingly obvious that the second group were not happy with how Frank was delivering the material. Frank always asked such folks “Did you read my book?” and over the years I discovered that none of these individuals had taken the time to do so. This meant that they often turned up with very fixed expectations about “what should happen” in a client session and “how trainings should be delivered” which inevitably made for some lively exchanges. As a colleague commented “They came to a provocative training and were expecting NOT to be provoked?” During this 2004 training on day three there was literally a shouting match between one angry feminist and Frank. It was literally like a soap opera, where she insisted how Frank should present and conduct his life’s work! The attendee was on her feet shouting at the top of her voice, but couldn’t bring herself to leave the room!

A few years later there was another outburst from a well know trainer of another approach after insisting on being a demo subject had a total meltdown after 25 minutes with Frank. I was watching the video of this recently and it started me thinking about the types of people who seem most combustible in such situations. My own observations are that those who tend to be pretty disassociated in thinking and behaviours struggle the most in these workshops. In a two day training, this kind of out burst is not as common. With longer trainings it is far more common and often quite fascinating to watch from a behavioral perspective.

The Provocative model is to “approach what the client avoids” This means the trainer and/or therapists seeks out the resistances the client or group  displays. Inevitably people get challenged in such situations and this in turn can result in some quite volcanic outbursts. Frank regularly commented on how many people only wanted “logical digital sequential learning” and would endlessly insist he “told them his secrets” insisting he was deliberately withholding useful material. Of course the reality was that he was endlessly working to get the clients and groups to think for themselves and make their own realisations by venturing out of previous ways of thinking. My own experience mirrors Frank’s experience and during our many exchanges over the years, he regularly lamented how people would have difficulty paying attention in his events. That said he always worked in an extraordinary manner for those in front of him, far more so that any other trainer I have met to date. Its a privilege to continue his work and to bring it to a wider global population through my own PCW trainings.

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