Misconceptions about “Provoking” Change by Nick Kemp

When I first met Frank Farrelly in 2004 I was amazed at how skillful he was and immediately warmed to his provocative approach. I was even more amazed that up until that point there were very few DVDs or audio material on his approach! This may in part account for the many misconceptions about how “provocation” is used for client change! Frank was very insistent that the frame for provocative therapy was to interact with the client as if talking to an old friend. “Provocative” does NOT mean being comedic, even though humour may result from the exchanges. “Provocative” also certainly does not mean being aggressive.

There is a real skill in using this approach and the practitioner needs to have excellent state control to usefully assist the client. I have seen some terrible footage of would be practitioners who consider themselves as “provoking client change” but without any of the sophistication and warmth that comes from Frank Farrelly’s approach. In one demo the practitioner essentially did little more than bully the client in an aggressive manner and in another the practitioner was so clumsy in his approach that it was painful to watch. I have only to date seen a handful of people who are excellent in demonstrating Frank’s work and all of them have a great sense of humour and don’t take themselves too seriously!

It takes a great deal of time and dedication to develop provocative skills to be able to work with the client in a conversational manner. The most skilled provocative therapists work in an effortless way, so the interaction looks like a normal everyday conversation. The Provocative Change Works model was inspired by Frank Farrelly’s Provocative Therapy work. It takes a full ten days to teach the key elements of this approach, including teaching how to master and use 27 different provocative stances. Practitioners also have to develop the ability to improvise and work “in the here and now” to genuinely assist clients with productive and long lasting change.

Nick Kemp Dec 2015

Frank Farrelly

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