Frank Farrelly on Expectational Sets in Provocative Therapy

Discussing Expectational Sets with Frank Farrelly

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for” John Lubbock

NICK: Client expectations and therapists expectations which I think is a good jumping off point, because from my experience a lot of the interaction and the outcome depends upon how those 2 things are, and I was just interested from your point of view, from having worked with a lot of different types of people. Where things don’t go right or where are the sort of common pitfalls of therapists fall into with these things.

frank farrellyFRANK: Every time people talk about clients, well I talked about the book, The Anatomy of Psychotherapy Systems Communication and Expectation by Leonard and Bernstein. Not Leonard Bernstein, Leonard and Bernstein. It’s funny, I think they were related to the conductor/composer kind of thing, but anyway … this woman … whenever people bring this topic up, I think of this woman who came to see me and she said ‘They say you’re a hypnotist’. I said ‘Yeah, well, whatever’ and she said ‘What, are you going to hypnotise me’? I said ‘I don’t know, depends’ and she said ‘Well, if you hypnotise me what are you going to do’? and I said ‘Whatever I want’! And she goes ‘Urgh’. And then she started …. and I burst out laughing and stuff like that she said ‘Well they say when you’re hypnotised you won’t do anything, you know, that you wouldn’t normally do’. I said ‘Do you have a dirty mind’? She said ‘Well, I mean of course I have’. So I said ‘See there, so that’s no reassurance for a woman like you’. I mean just bang. We were just off to the races before they ever sounded the gun you know. So communicational expectations and stuff like this. And people have got a freight load of these things you know. Then another thing. I was coming to Europe and somebody called me and wanted to see me. I said ‘I’m going to Europe and don’t have time to see you’. They said ‘Well would you have time for 1 session’? I said ‘Well yeah’ but I mean …. They said ‘I understand that you work so fast that a lot of times that’s all it takes. 1 session from you is equal to 10 from someone else’. I said ‘Well I don’t know where you heard that but, alright if you want to come’ and I did see him and he said it was very helpful and when was I coming back. I told him and he said ‘Ok if I still have trouble you know will you ….’ And I said ‘Pay now’ and stuff like this. He said ‘If I still have trouble can I come back and see you’? and I said ‘Yeah bring money’ you know. He said ‘If I need you, I’ll call you’. I said ‘Ok’. I didn’t hear from him again and maybe that was the end of it. We got a lot work done in that 1 session. So again some people think it’s going to take years and years you know. Therapists say this sort of stuff ‘Well it took you a long time to get this way and it’s
going to take you a long time to un-get this way’. What a … Jesus. Well maybe the way they go about it. We’re going to have to ….. I tell people that this is what Freud, he was a pioneer, and when he was doing his work the rage for everybody was archaeology and they discovered Troy sometime around this kind of time. So they think ‘wow’ the thing to do is to dig deeper, and what do you hear from psychoanalytical oriented ….? Dig deeper. Dig deeper. They are so hooked into this anti-theological, dig deeper we’re searching for Troy in your mind, that you think God, what’s wrong is wrong now. It may have been going around and around and around for decades in your head, but its amazing how quickly you can clear up peoples stuff, well as you know from your work.

NICK: One of the things, when I was writing out all the text for the Association for Provocative Therapy Website, one of the things I wanted to make very clear was that, from my experience of watching you work, and from seeing and having interviewed hundreds of people myself, that there is a very different emphasis in that it is exactly about what’s happening here and now, and not when you were 10 years old did you run off into the forest with your rabbit and this kind of stuff. And not analysing all past events, but really responding very much with what’s happening in the session. What I found hugely reassuring and refreshing, is that you’re just working in the moment. And I was interested, I mean, having originally trained as Carl Rogers, that must be a pretty big shift in terms of, from a therapist’s expectation of working and operating from, how you started out.

FRANK: Well yeah I mean when I first got a guru as a psychoanalyst priest, or something, but yeah he would talk about every child thinks it was adopted. I had never heard that. I said ‘Are you sure’? He said ‘Yeah’. Finally I decided you know, not within the week or so, that I never once thought that I was adopted, no, no, no. I am number 9 of 12 kids, in a family of 12 you know, and on the nuttiest day of their lives my parents never went out in 1931 to adopt one other kid in the depths of the depression. I mean they miss the cultural, ergonomic, you know, birth father all this kind of stuff, they just blithely ignore it. I think boy not me. Whatever they write about parents and children, its mother and child, fathers are just kind of blithely ignored. Serious famous research, 722 parents and stuff da, da, da, which therapists and clinicians refer to a lot, not one father in the whole assembly, not one father, by God my father was not overlooked. He was an Irish patriarch. So the familiar consolations and the number of kids are so vastly different. I was giving a talk to a University in Philadelphia and it was called Analysing the Analyst and Badler and Grinder came from the West Coast to model on it. Me and then Dr Spurge in English who was a grand psychiatrist, a grand old man of psychiatry, great guy, just great guy, anyway but, what was I going to say. I was talking to this group of 40/50 psychoanalysts, physicians, psychoanalytical therapists and psychologists and all sorts and they say that every child develops a complex. I said not me, I was standing too far back in the line. A couple of
people went mmmm. They get real. Seriously My God Almighty, you know, angry, da, da, da. So one by one, I had to unlearn a lot of the ….. Then there are 3 parts to everybody. Ego, Super Ego and It. Only 3. My God what I have going on inside me, since I was a little boy, there was a lot more than 3. Jesus help me. Any rate. I forget what the hell you just said that go me off on that! But oh yeah to un-learn that kind of stuff and then also with clients, I just adored Karl Rodgers, what a man. He was always very kind to me and stuff like that and one night I called him, he was still in Madison, and said ‘da da da, I got this thing and da, da, da’ and I told him about this interview I was that damn excited I was flying off the ground, and he started laughing and said ‘Frank this sounds like an Irish stew’ and I said ‘Yeah it’s more than just 1 thing, 2 things, 3 things. There’s a hell of a lot more wrapped up in this’. And then the laughter and imagery and I said ‘I was just any damn image that came to mind, I just gave it to this guy and any rate boy did he start, I mean, chronic schizophrenics don’t sit on the edge of their chairs and look at you and gesturing and getting beet red with embarrassment, bursting all out. Whatever the hell is going on. They say chronic schizophrenia. After 6 interviews he got up and got out. You know. Out of the nut bin, the acorn academy. That’s another I learnt. I learnt very very rapidly, was that to talk the patients language you know, not this polished terminology with Latin and Grecian which therapists like to talk and utilize it because it makes them sound more professional and scientific and blah, blah, blah. People don’t talk this way, at least not normals you know.

NICK: What did Carl Rogers make of what you told him because that must be quite a big difference to his … what he really started out with his approach.

FRANK: Yeah, yeah. Well. We had administrated medians of the group research thing he was doing each week and then we’d have clinical meetings and stuff like that. And I said I don’t want to become a mid-wife which was an image he utilised and I don’t want to be a horticulturist which is another image he used. I said ‘I want to pry about the deep answers of whatever the hell and then I want to penetrate through to the core of these schizophrenics and inject some life into them’ (with those gestures) and he said ‘Frank you’re so phallic’. But I did want to inject some life into them. I mean working with schizophrenics, you don’t know what slow motion is. And even Karl talked about glacier slowness. Well my God when I discovered I’d broken through this new therapy, I didn’t even have a name for it, but boy I tell you a lit a fire under some asses and they started movement and the thoughts started coming out and even their rate of speech and choice of words and imagery and this kind of stuff. They’re bursting out laughing. So there were a lot of very specific behavioural changes that took place. I knew I was on to something, I just knew it. I could smell it, taste it, see it, hear it, feel it. You know. And I wasn’t composing a response. I talked to people all over the world and I owe a real debt of gratitude to the client centring group and Karl of course. They were so helpful and so supportive and they
listened and stuff like that and then they looked at the results and they played tapes and stuff like that. Yeah yeah.

NICK: What’s interesting for me is from having …

FRANK: Carl was very tolerant. Very tolerant. As a matter of fact there was a group of clinicians that came up from Chicago and one of the radars told me he heard Carl tell them if I were a young man entering the field of psychotherapy today, I would be progressing along the lines that Frank Farrelly is doing therapy. And I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think that’s what he said. I didn’t miss hear him. I’m not making up words or giving some inadequate distorted summary. That’s what he said! And I don’t have any hearing difficulties. That’s it. Ok when somebody gets pissed off that much, you can sort of begin to trust him! And yeah, that’s another thing. In our regular speech and this kind of stuff we take ‘How do you establish rapport? How do you know to trust someone’? Well they got pissed off enough. My brother-in-law said one more word from me and he was going to beat the shit out of me. So I mean right away I could trust him you know, this type of thing. And it’s not just oozing empathy from every pore. That just doesn’t necessarily work with sociopaths and murderers and rapists and child fiddlers like I did, from the Wisconsin Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. I got a bunch of those. Anyway they, just thinking empathy, oozing empathy, worked and I prize your work and dignity. You’re either queer or you’re some clinician with a weak sister. So a lot of times when some of these clinicians think they’re communicating. The message sent is not necessarily the message received. Communication theory one on one. Excuse me, I interrupted you.

NICK: I was going to say from my point of view, I never did client centred therapy, from an NLP perspective when we first met in May 2004, in Bournemouth, to start with I didn’t know what to make of it. I just felt this whole approach seems completely nuts in a kind of nice way, but it doesn’t seem to make any sense.

FRANK: That’s what I thought. This is nuts. It’s not making any sense. But by God, the stuff coming out of the patients …..

NICK: The main thing for me, well there are a couple of things that I found that made a big, big, difference. Right from the start, I’ll always remember one phrase, because I was writing up the whole workshop on an evening, so I really wanted to get my thoughts down, and one
you would say was ‘Haul it up that flagpole and see if they salute’, which has really resonated. And also you’re working with what’s there. You’re not bringing a whole stack of theoretical ideas, techniques, this whether you like it or not, or it’s relevant or not, we’re going to do this or that’. That has made for me, personally, a huge difference it terms of accelerating good outcomes with clients and this is across a big range of behaviours you know. Things which people come along with …. I had a lady who had OCD for 24 years, and within an hour (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) her whole way of maintaining that state had pretty much started to disappear. By the second interview it’s not even there. Her psychotherapist is saying ‘What happened’? Because they have analysed every tiny little nuance to the ength degree and of course it’s clear from having an insight into your work, that that’s pretty much the polar opposite of what provocative therapy does.

FRANK: Exactly. Well for a lot people, therapists and clinicians, would say ‘Well it’s plugged into health’. Symptom substitution and they’re just going to develop an even worse blah, blah, blah. And I say How about this. She’s being going around and around like a broken record and after several decades of this, client’s, patients, patients families, spouses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wives, husbands, children, co-workers, they just can’t wait for change. So the patient is ready for change, like 98% ready for change, and the matrix of their significant others, all important people in their lives, they’re ready for the person to change. They’re sick and tired of this crap, you know. And so if the person changes, people say ‘Flied into health’. Flied into health my ass. They were ready. I mean they were way beyond ready. They’d been ready you know. Jesus. God Almighty. By their approach you shall know them, the man said. Carpenter once said that. And you don’t gather figs from thistles you know. So when you get changed behaviour and changed ideational patterns and change … and this stuff is spontaneous and coming out quickly too it’s not this paper thin sounding made up kind of … Insight and stuff like that. I have gotten so many people who have been to a dozen different therapists, a dozen different therapists. I had this one woman in New York and she said after the first session, I can’t believe my ears. Do you actually help people by talking to them this way. I said ‘Help. Who the fuck’s talking about help. I mean you know, talking you can get help, but help is harder to come by. Phrase patterns kind of stuff, because I had all these Jewish graduates in New York (Yawk). Anyway I said talking you can get but the help is harder to come by which is proved by the 12 dried out husks of therapists that you’ve left in your wake. She was like … I pictured her as a blood sucking, what are these things that suck out the juices of some insects … just leave the dried husk. But boy did she change. She changed. Jesus H Christ boy. And people get into patterns you know. Patterns of having to … they are so sick and tired of having to … when I see someone who is a certified government inspected loser, clinical failure case, I mean it’s … ‘I don’t know what to do with her will can have her’? and I said ‘Sure, bring the body in as long as it’s still warm we can do therapy with it’. This one psychiatrist he burst out laughing he said ‘God Frank. Thank God for you’. But this woman.
She had 25 suicidal attempts. I mean you could hear the death rattle in her throat kind of stuff and her family had to run around to every … She’d go these motels you know, and sign herself in, and then take all these different kinds of drugs and stuff to say goodbye cruel world kind of thing. And they would find her. They had these pictures and they got this thing down to a t. She may have used this, this and this. Idiocies and everything. Ah well that’s Mrs Spencer she’s in room 6 you know. Open it. No she’s very very suicidal. Call the ambulance. 25 of these then I get her. I started to talk to her and said ‘Why don’t we talk about his because maybe 26 you get really lucky because I’m not chasing your ass all over the city looking. You die, you die, ok. You can have your family doing that stuff but not me. So we talked about all kinds of stuff. How her ex-husband got her to suck horse’s cock as he had horses and stuff like that. Oh boy I’ll tell you, that was something else I’ll tell you. The lurid stories, anyway. When is a person ready to change? After they’ve warn out their family, therapist, etc, and sometimes they’ll do the changes over there. Not going to do them here. They’ll do them over there. I told her, I said, maybe next time you’ll be successful and you’ll find people coming over and saying ‘Come on dear we’re going to work on some of the things that Frank was trying to help you with’. And this one scientist, she had a … longer than your arm and she would carry around 2 poisons in her purse. One was a dozen times more powerful to kill any person and number two was much more powerful. 100 times the lethal dose . 100 times. I mean she enough poison to kill a herd of elephants. And she was a kind of petite thing. My colleague said ‘Get that poison away from her’ and I said ‘Why, she could get 200 times by lunch tomorrow’. I don’t know what the fuck. I talked with this one guy and he said ‘I see what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that that’s the wholly biotical last rites of church and the priest who gives you you know. My brother did this for people. I had 2 brothers who were priests. Poison is the wholly biotic for a bunch of sceptics and words against atheists. I don’t believe in any of that superstition shit but I got my poison here to help me off the planet here.

NICK: I have my own theory but I mean I’m curious to know your take on this. What sort of people does it really take to become provocative therapists? Because I’ve seen, we were in Munich earlier in the year, and I got to talk to Nonie extensively. Our takes are very similar. So I am just interested because we’ve got DIP in Germany Association of Provocative Therapy in the UK. But what sort of people just go, like I did, oh my God what is this, from your experiences?

FRANK: The quickest person to ever learn provocative therapy was a student nurse. And she came in to me when I was a social worker and I would talk about the patients, the families and all this kind of stuff da da da. Then I got to talking about if you didn’t have your nursing supervisor looking over your shoulder and filling up your diary on this patient, what would you like to say to them? Boy you should have heard the stuff coming out. I said
‘What would your supervisor say if she could her what your saying now’? She said ‘God, I’d be kicked out of the class’ etc, etc. So I said ‘Why don’t you tell the patient this’. She was a cute little thing and stuff like this. Anyway I said after she’d had the interview with them to come in and talk to me again. She came in and I was in stitches and I said ‘Yeah well thanks a lot nurse. I wouldn’t have worked my balls off for 5 years to find you, diddy-bop in here in 15 minutes and get it. God this is depressing’. And she said ‘Oh Frank don’t get so upset about it, if it makes you feel any better this is the way we think and talk in my family so you know I’ve been studying this for 19 years’. Thank you nurse it helps. It did. They think this way, they talk this way. Things don’t have to move in steps, digital, sequential movements you know to get from a to b to c to d and then arrive at e. Fuck it. Just boing boing. The human mind works like this a lot of times, I mean, not certain people who have got a mind like a constricted anal sphinture, but the rest of us, our minds works like this. You can call it increased association of ideas and difficulty in reaching and all this other kind of thing. Oh god, you know. Some sweet Jesus. You know sometimes this aarrgghh this tight, digital, sequential, logical, rational, data, problem solving. I find that very constricting and stuff like this. Landing in an aeroplane, and my niece is flying these like gasoline stations in the sky, and she’s not in it, she’s piloting it. I call her the general. I guess she’s captain or something like that. What a girl. Just a petite little something. She had us in stitches telling us about survival in the desert when her compatriot or someone had died. They were supposed to go kill a snake, chew its’ head off or something like that and spit its’ head off and eat this raw snake meat. They’d been out there a week with nothing, just a knife and they learnt how to make fire and stuff like that and roast the snake. Wow, whoopee doo. And how to cut the pulp out of some certain kind of cacti and chew and suck on this stuff to get some liquid. Oh my God. Anyway she knows how to do digital, sequential and stuff like that, but she also had us in stitches talking about experiences she had and all that kind of stuff. Captain Jennifer Farrelly, what a girl. Any rate. People who can be spontaneous, who can have some respect or who can acknowledge others. And who could listen to other people and who could have a sense of fun and a sense of humour. And who believe like the Chinese proverb says ‘Gaiety is wiser than wisdom’ and ‘Laughter is the sound of victory’ etc. And who can see the comic side of things and the sad, tragic side of things. Because you know there’s that too. Any rate in Berlin they were saying ‘Could you tell us, 78 Germans, and this one guy who was a psychiatrist asked if he could stand up and I said no he could sit down but they said let him stand because we can hear him much better, not just talking into the hair. So he would say ‘Frank could you give us the pre-requisite of a person who would make a good provocative therapist’ and I said ‘Yes’. He said ‘Yes’? And I said ‘Oh you want me to do it? Alright number 1 (hold up the right index finger) to begin with it helps to be born Irish. They all tilted to the right or left of me. And I thought of that student nurse, because her ability to just play with words. That words are fun to play with and you can, and we did this on her family, if you said something that was a turn of speech, or a comparison or mispronounce something and it was funny, pretty soon you were being quoted all over the family and other people. Then they would forget who said it and it just
became part of the family. So it’s playing with words, having a sense of humour, being able to play with your own thoughts and feelings, being able to easily share your thoughts and feelings and there are a number of other factors. I haven’t gone down and made a list in rank order and stuff like this. I don’t know. When it happens it happens.

NICK: I think a lot of people who I’ve seen who demonstrate to your approach really well, interestingly don’t often take themselves too seriously.

FRANK: There you go.

NICK: And also as an aside, a lot of us seem to love movies.

FRANK: That’s imagery you know. Yeah.

NICK: Because I know when I was in Germany, Nonie’s got this huge collection of dvd’s. A great fan of movies. But I think that certainly the spontaneity side which I love, because I’m not a great one for like constricted ways of working. So I really warm to this old approach very nicely.

FRANK: I’ve got some new things and stuff that I’ll like to share with you over tea. She’ll say she wants to consult with me about some cases and stuff and I just kind of accidentally said ‘Why don’t you just be this person and then I’ll just provide the therapy for him or her or whatever’. So she’ll be a 27 year old graduate student or something like that. Or a 72 year old guy who’s dying and stuff like that. Anything. Guys, gals, etc. What was that thing you said ….

NICK: The thing for me was that she was so convincing. When she sent me these audio things, I actually in my mind, thought I’m listening to a real interview until a certain point where she said ‘I’m a 19 year old guy’ and I’m thinking that doesn’t sound quite right. Then I remembered that I was actually playing it and she responded as a person would respond and I think one of my favourites which we put on was her being the jealous Italian wife, which I thought was delightful. But again just that real warmth towards people, the real ability to think very quickly, and to be able to pay attention to what’s
happening, rather than going in with a very fixed, serious, and not a useful way kind of approach.

FRANK: Thinking about a diagnostic approach all the time. She’s an artist. I feel kind of guilty because it’s so easy and so much fun. I think this can’t be useful because I’m having so much fun. But she says ‘You’ve given me so many ideas and stuff’. Ok the second one is such and such. So I’ve got these dvd, anyway, so who would make a good provocative therapist? I don’t know. We saw a gal yesterday and her name was Ruth. I said ‘How old are you’? and she said ‘29’ and I told Sue, later, that gal’s a natural provocateur. She would make a wonderful provocative therapist. I mean it. She had such a marvellous laughter. It wasn’t like tinkerbell, it was ha, ha, ha. And real too. So a lot of times you can pick out people that have got that spontaneity, sense of humour and easy laughing, very easy and fluent about the use of language and imagery, similes, analogies, metaphors. Very comfortable with this kind of stuff. Which a lot of people, in America, I don’t know what percentage, some people aren’t. It was like when you first heard this it was ‘What the fuck do you think’? Stop, start. Abrupt. Not just right turns but going backwards you know.

NICK: What was really interesting in recent times was going to San Francisco, at this big NLP conference, I did 2 slots. I forget how much and how different this is as an approach because it’s just what you do. You don’t think of it as something ‘I am now going to engage this element’ and after the first slot I suddenly looked around and people where going ‘What is this’? and we did just a couple of exercises and a demonstration and a lot of these guys had been doing NLP sometimes for 3 decades and straight away they were saying they had read the original book, but like seeing this in a live situation is very very different. Because it has a kind of catalyst and mercurial quality to it. Where everything is speeding up. And within an hour, I had never had that many people say ‘How do I find out more about this’? So you know it really, as in the term, ‘provokes’ and stimulates responses on a whole range of different levels and dimensions. For me it was really fascinating to see that response coming back. Which is very much my response. I mean I was just … I thought … And also I think the other thing with doing the workshops in May 2009, what and how do people get this and I think a lot of it is their ability to relax and you said, right from day one, it’s like talking to an old friend and that kind of state and approach and mannerisms. And everything just really becomes very natural and very easy.

FRANK: Yes, but isn’t that a heart warming thing. People say ‘How can I learn some more about this’ and ‘Where can I find out ..’. It’s nicer to than to have to go through a load of, now I’m going to write my master technique ….’. And a lot of people have described it as a
very hypnotic process, although formally, you wouldn’t say this is really hypnosis, but because people are so engaged in what’s happening, they often go, as I remember, going in this total state of confusion. I don’t even know where we are. We started off with this problem and now we seem to be … I don’t know. I’m not really sure. And that, as a process for change is so different from, you were saying, reinforcement. How long have you had it for? What do you think this might be? Have you, even worse, have you ever thought it might be this? And now they’re thinking no, but now you mention it, maybe. So working with the client’s responses … somebody described it as almost like a homeopathic thing or a holistic thing. The main thing for me is, and people were saying this from the evening you did recently, this is about what’s happening not a theoretical construct of what we imagine should happen. And I would imagine that certain … I’m thinking my God how do you manage, how come you didn’t get … you were able to do a lot of this, because this is radical even in 2008 never mind 1963.
Frank Farrelly & Nick Kemp
Fly on the wall: Nick shows Frank a demo PT session from the I.A.S.H. conference, USA 2008

NICK: This is like a clip from one of the demonstrations in the San Francisco conference.

FRANK: That you did?

NICK: That I did. This girl volunteered to be a subject so this is just, this isn’t a full provocative therapy interview, it’s just a demonstration of some of the kind of interactions that you can have. So when I met her I had no idea what she was going to come up with, or how she was going to be and it’s only about 3 to 4 minutes, but I thought it was quite nice the interaction, so I saved it for you to have a look at.

NICK: One of the things that’s interesting is that you start talking at this kind of level and then you just take the voice down a bit and notice the difference that that makes. And periodically just stop, because that also provokes a response. So there’s lots of different ways to provoke responses with different clients. Ok so we’ve got 4 minutes Simon? Alright. So what’s the problem?

CLIENT: Well I think I have a belief that ….
NICK: You think you … That sounds very detailed and precise, carry on.
CLIENT: That I can’t find a relationship of somebody in their 20’s that meets the criteria that I’m looking for.
NICK: The criteria?
FRANK: She thinks she has the belief that she can’t find somebody who fits the criteria that she likes, is that it?
NICK: Correct.
CLIENT: And I have a hard time attracting relationships that I want, rather than with people that I’m not interested in.
NICK: What you have you tried?
CLIENT: Well I know if I have a pair of shoes that I want, I can go out and buy exactly what I want and that doesn’t seem to be the case in relationships.
FRANK: Now this is pure female. I want … I mean shoes I can do, I don’t have any problem with shoes, but men right they are always so tight and they rub me the wrong way. They’re the wrong height or the wrong colour or the wrong material. They go through this check list of what’s wrong with this guy. We know something’s wrong with him. So I always to try to say ‘look, once a girl’ … I’ve trained a lot of girls how to hunt men. Men and girls. For a lot of them it’s just not, it’s sort of this post-gender feminist … dumb, shit full of brains, kind of crap. But anyway if women could hear guys doing this, but guys don’t have this … I mean, you know, good tits, good ass, move it like a working girl. That’s not …. The men are much more satisfied with marriage than women are, but something like 89% of women say ‘oh yeah if only I had married Cecil you know, blah blah blah, then this wouldn’t have happened and that wouldn’t have happened’. Anyway this is … Shoes and guys, they’re just objects to go through initially of course the checklist, but falling love, this is what she doesn’t … yeah go ahead.
NICK: Think about this ok, think about this. You’ve got shoe stores. You based in California or New York. You had to think about it for a minute.
CLIENT: The reason I said New York is that I think my media work will take me to New York.
CLIENT: So I can see myself there.
NICK: You see you know like when you go into a shoe shop. What size feet are you?
NICK: 9.
NICK: Is that big?
CLIENT: I thought you were going to make a comment about it.
NICK: Well I wasn’t, but now you mention it. I don’t know if it’s like just … whether it’s the heat and they just got bigger while we’re in the room or it’s just that colour against the carpet. Do you think that feet make a factor in this?
FRANK: Do you know the 2 areas of their bodies that the overwhelming majority of women feel very self conscious about?
NICK: I’m guessing that one of them is the feet.
FRANK: That’s right.
FRANK: I just found that out. It’s butt that’s number 1. The first 25 … then feet. You just sort of look at a woman. Go ahead.
NICK: So I said to her do you think the feet might be a factor in the problem.
FRANK: You’re right, yes, good.
NICK: Ok I see. What do you want? It’s like you’ve got shoe stores. You know shoe stores?
NICK: Ok just checking you know. Music stores. Have you been to a music store before?
NICK: Yeah ok. It’s not a trick question. You see what you want is that you want to have a guy store.
CLIENT: Yes I know.
NICK: You go in and you say ‘Ok, I’d like someone, before we see any samples, I need to see the last 6 months bank statements yeah. No losers. Then you say I think probably about … what sort of height you wanting?
CLIENT: I’m about 5 ft 6 so maybe about 6 ft.
NICK: Ok about 6 ft. Brown hair, blonde hair, black hair?
CLIENT: Whatever ….
NICK: So you just don’t care?
CLIENT: Ok maybe dark coloured hair.
NICK: Dark hair ok. 6 ft, darker hair. All limbs or not bothered?
NICK: All limbs or not bothered.
FRANK: Ha. You’re so British … go ahead.
NICK: All limbs or not bothered then?
CLIENT: All limbs I’d prefer.
NICK: But if he was really cute and he just had like one arm …..
CLIENT: I don’t think so.
NICK: I said if he’s a really cute guy but he just had one arm would it be ok and you could see her thinking ………
FRANK: Yeah right.
NICK: Blue eyes, black eyes, brown eyes?
FRANK: Stop. Stop. But you’re introducing kind of obliquely … or this thing of you’re list you know … could you begin to think in terms of this guy, the love of your life it could be, doesn’t fit all of your idiotic, crazy ass, Chinese laundry list, which is good ….
CLIENT: Maybe I prefer blue eyes.
NICK: Ok, ok. So that would work. That would work. So what else have you done to get any of these guys?
CLIENT: Not much.
NICK: Not much?
CLIENT: I’m just really busy.
NICK: Have you done all the typical women things? Like flick the hair you know or flutter the eye lashes.
CLIENT: I don’t see the young interesting ones …
NICK: You live …
CLIENT: I don’t know where they are.
NICK: You don’t know where they are?

FRANK: You bring in, you know, the crazy ideas of the idiotic and absurd hypotheses. Right do you ever think that they could be hiding out from you and women of your ilk? Ok so I mean she doesn’t know where they are. She doesn’t look. But a girl who’s a certain degree of attractiveness, she doesn’t have to look. She is supposed to be looked after by guys. This is another kind of thing. The physical kind of thing but then there’s another thing that’s psychological. I expect them to chase me and stuff. My daddy says ‘I chased your mother until she caught me’. I said that doesn’t make any sense. Later after being married, boy my father was making more and more sense. In research stuff they found out you know ‘who should take the initiative’ and touching pp’s and all this kind of stuff and guys kind of say a woman could do as much as … wrong. If they have to take the initiative as much as the guy, or if a woman has to take the initiative 50% of the time that marriage is in trouble, because she thinks you don’t really love me, because if you really loved me you’d want to touch pp’s more than I do etc. But this is a really important thing of who chases whom or who ought to chase whom. Who does chase whom? Do you know how to play hard to get? I mean because she’s not even on anybody’s radar. Actually she’s kind of a cute looking gal.

NICK: What I find fascinating is that you start to introduce some pretty crazy ideas and you start to see her going ‘yeah that might work’.
FRANK: Yeah. Yeah. Good god almighty you know.
NICK: Did you think about maybe a TV advert?
NICK: Well that’s a possibility. Of if you want go and like reduce the budget. You see these guys you have over here …. At McDonalds. Have you been to McDonalds?
CLIENT: No, I don’t go to McDonalds.
NICK: Ok. You don’t go or you’re not admitting to going, it’s different?
CLIENT: No, I’m just, I’m a vegan.
NICK: A vegan? Ok well another thing is you could get one of those billboards.
CLIENT: Ah ha.
NICK: Hang in there.
NICK: 6 ft guy needed. Good bank statements.
CLIENT: Ah ha.
NICK: Preferably all limbs but …. if particularly cute…
NICK: Possibly, maybe some kind of a waiver. Apply in writing for interviews.
CLIENT: Writing. Why writing?
NICK: Ok by phone.
CLIENT: By phone. Why not in person?
NICK: Ok in person. So you could set up an interview section.
NICK: And then you pick out the best one.
NICK: Sounds good?
CLIENT: I’m thinking that it might be to the ones I like that maybe I’m giving off some odd vibes.
NICK: Oh. Like what.
CLIENT: I don’t know.
FRANK: What did she say?
NICK: She said I think I might be giving off some odd vibe.
FRANK: Oh what no! Her! What kind of ……. Go ahead.
NICK: Well I think that’s a possibility. Let’s not rule it out. At least if you’ve got the billboard you also keep extra fit as well with all that walking up and down.
CLIENT: That’s right.
NICK: Ok. So do you have any reactions or responses? You’ve gone into some deep meditative trances ……
Not really.
NICK: While you’re thinking. Ok so what do you guys notice from her reactions.
AUDIENCE: She thinks your nuts.
AUDIENCE: By presenting the insane it starts her to think about the not so insane but what was also interesting was that she started to go along with you at the end and it was like ‘oh ok, yeah, you could kind of go on a website or search for a store’. These criteria would be ok. Interestingly, she started to go along with it.

NICK: A lot of clients will do that. I had a client came to see me for … talking about this in one of the interviews I was doing … extreme jealousy, we were talking about it last night …. and this girl rang me up and she was absolutely at a mentally and emotionally boiler point. And I’ll always remember her because she was the most anxious, jealous, client I’ve ever had. So she comes in and I said ‘Ok what’s the problem’? And she said ‘Well you know I have like extreme jealousy. My last relationship ended after 6 years and I’m now with this new guy. We’re engaged to be married but I’m just driving him away’. So I get more information from her and find out that she feels jealous about everybody he has been with, or she imagines he has been with, or she imagines he has thought about in the past. Anybody who he sees in the present or, she believes, thinks about in the present, and
anybody he could see or think about in the future. Now this guy is strewn, not in a literal sense. And I was thinking God I’m struggling to get this any crazier than it is but that is really something. And then I sat back, and usually with these kind of exercises, the secret is just relax and just hear the stories and the words and the pictures and all the different information coming through and then it came to me. Got it. I said ‘Ok’. So I said ‘Do you guys ever watch American Idol’? And she said ‘Sure, yeah, we love American Idol’. I said ‘When you watch American Idol with him, and this is important so you need to pay attention, this is scientifically important that we get the right information. We already know that he’s thinking about the women, so we’re reinforcing, have you at any time, and in any instance, even if you just fleetingly out of the corner, even if you’re not just quite sure, any point did you ever see him looking at the guys’? And she goes ‘No, well no, it’s not the guys’. I said ‘When you’ve been out in restaurants and you’ve been served, is it normally waitresses or waiters who serve you’? And she goes ‘Well usually it’s waiters’. Are you noticing a pattern here? ‘At any time when you’ve been served, especially when the waiter’s walking away, have you ever seen him just glance and maybe a little raise of the eyebrow’? And she said ‘I don’t think he’s gay’ and I said ‘I’m not saying he’s gay I’m just trying to gather information’. Now we kept going down this route and I thought it’s kind of nutty but it’s not nutty enough. So I said ‘Ok now do you have any pets’? She said ‘Well we’re thinking about getting a pet’ and I said ‘Ok this is important, have you ever seen, at any time, him eyeing up a little chiwaowa or like the larger pets with perhaps something that may be considered to be a little more than affection’? And she said ‘Well no’. Now at this point she’s shifted internally into a whole bunch of different scenarios and she actually feeds back to say ‘Now I think about this, this sounds a little bit nuts’. And I go ‘Whoa, I don’t think so’. Now if you think about it, I said ‘Let’s just establish a few principles. Things that we know for sure right? Number 1. You get jealous about him doing other things with other women’ and she went ‘Yes’ and that was all the evidence she needed. Done and dusted. Now this was about, in the end it was 3 sessions, and this was unusual as normally I’d do 2 sessions with clients like this and by the end of it, who here had the experience by the end of the session that if you were the client you felt a bit spaced out and a bit disorientated? Ok. We did some stuff on Friday as well and usually what happens is the old pattern of what’s happening has been shunted around in completely different ways, especially if you use a lot of sensory rich language. They’re going here, and they’re going here, and they’re going here, and when you try to come back to things, by using the more insane approach we have got licence to do anything. It doesn’t have to be real. It can be as nutty as it can be. And usually it takes the client outside their previous stuck state.

FRANK: Very nice.
NICK: They really liked it.
FRANK: First of all you’re able to, again you’re able to, shift around and stuff like that and you’re able to demonstrate what you tell them to do. Number 2, you just formulate the hypotheses that ….. Well it could by guys. He could be looking at girls as a cover up. Everything’s a cover up and a conspiracy theory. Number 3 yeah they get ‘Oh boy I’d like to pet the big dog that somebody brings in’.
NICK: In the room there was like, Oh god there was a whole room reaction because it’s all insinuation you know. Did if he ever just look at them in what might be considered more than just affection? And we hadn’t gone into great detail, but the people in the room were going, Oh no we don’t want to go down this route. And her response of course, because at the same time the client’s still sitting there, so you’re still working with them, although not apparently working with them, they’re going through … and it’s introduced, because of course the jealousy thing is also a listening process. So while I’m talking about the other client, she is also running through her head and you can see all her reactions going ‘Oh yeah well there’s this and this’, and the thing that I find delightful, and this is very common, is that the clients actually start thinking that this could work. This could actually work. But with the original jealous client, I really for a moment, I was thinking how am I going to make this crazier than it is because she has already … flipped head the guy loses … tail the guy loses. Flip the coin the guy loses. Don’t flip the coin the guy loses. There’s no option for him.

FRANK: That’s ok. That’s the way it is with some people.

NICK: But after we did this clip, straight away one of the guys who was watching said we really want to know more about this whole approach. Because they were just going ‘What is this stuff’?

FRANK: Yeah. Because it takes some of this mantra that you are free and you are essentially free. You don’t know Rosemary, my girlfriend, God Almighty, you’ve just described my girlfriend, my squeeze, my life, my whatever. Our relationship. But it’s good. I mean most people would say 4 minutes that’s barely enough for an inhalation, exhalation, breath cycle, but it’s good and I like it.

NICK: We’re talking about accelerated approach and we’re not kidding. Literally within a few minutes you’re doing a lot of the time, what some people take for ever to get to. Let’s go though the whole story starting at the beginning.

FRANK: A lot of time, especially among certain things, they will wait and wait and wait and wait because they don’t want to put anything in there because that would contaminate the neutrality. Neutrality my ass. It’s not neutral. It’s what Freud said. Anything that comes out of the patient. Psychoanalytical patients rapidly get to know if they’re talking and if the pencil is scratching over the paper. Ok the pencil stops and they kind of think we’d better change the subject. He’s bored.

FRANK: Great. I’m proud of you.

NICK: Well I’m learning. You see all this advice over the years. Some of it’s actually getting in there. Really I don’t remember ever consciously thinking I am now going to sit down and study this approach. I just listened to a lot of stuff and it’s only when I started doing all the BBC interviews and I listened back, not even when I was there, and I thought oh my god it sounds like Frank, you know, and people come with a phobia …

FRANK: Your stuff.
NICK: Are you sure you want to get rid of it.
FRANK: Right.
NICK: Which is the last question that anybody wants.
FRANK: Exactly. Yes.
NICK: And from there the thing I noticed, and especially with the American workshop, was that the secret, the big secret, was just to relax and read it like you are talking to an old friend. It’s not a metaphorical description, it’s actually the way you work and the funny thing for me is the results are so much better than counsellors and therapists. I keep having these psychotherapists go ‘How come your clients only come 2, sometimes 3, times and how come you’re booked every week’? There’s more and more people.
FRANK: Good on you laddie.
NICK: Show me any other therapeutic approach where you start the clock on 4 minutes and you get any kind of reaction like that and I would be very impressed. I’ve never seen anything, and that includes some very well known stuff.

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