Improvisation in Provocative Therapy

When I first saw Frank Farrelly in action teaching provocative therapy, I was totally mystified. I had come from a background of NLP and from the NLP perspective this made no sense to me at all. Ye, I could see glimpses of what I learned in NLP BUT there was so much going on, on so many levels I initially found it really hard to track. The Provocative Therapy process fascinated me and Frank was clearly totally at ease as a therapist effortlessly changing the client’s thinking. This was a whole new level of expertise that made the co creators of BLP look decidedly clunky in how they worked.

Frank was a brilliant therapist and a true innovator. He never really explained the process in detail and instead it was up to students to watch and listen during the interviews or demonstrations. Only later did I begin the fully appreciate the brilliance and precision of the provocative approach. Central to provocative therapy is the ability for the practitioner to work in an improvised manner. This means the practitioner only works in the here and now, responding to the client’s verbal and non verbal responses. Any student wanting to learn the art of provocation would benefit greatly from learning the rules of improvisation which are

1. Accept everything (no blocking)
2. Add direction
3. Be forward in attitude
4. Add energy & sense of drama
5. Keep positive with sense of fun
6. Tell, don’t ask
7. Don’t try to be funny
8. Don’t try to be original

This means working in a very different way with clients and steering away from pre determined set piece techniques often found in other therapeutic approaches. This means the practitioner needs to be really comfortable in themselves when working in clinical situations. The “manner” of the practitioner is as important as what they do in the session.

When teaching provocative skills I use the PCW card system which teaches students to develop real flexibility. There are 27 fundamental stances the practitioner can adopt and each of these have a very different effect. Frank was a natural improviser with a great love of music and my experience is that often those who warm to the provocative approach often have a similar love of music and film.

In 2018 I’ll be teaching students in USA, Japan, Europe and online with the 1 – 1 skype programme.  A big part of this will be learning how best to improvise and only respond to the client rather than decide what you are going to do ahead of time during the session!

Provocative Therapy

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