In traditional coaching and talk therapy, sessions mostly adhere to a very formulaic ritualized format. The problem with this is that both therapist and client often end up doing little more than engage in role playing. Both parties discuss and analyze “the problem” often spending endless hours either reinforcing the original problem or having no effect whatsoever. Frank described this as “the archeological dig” and regularly observed that this process was in his opinion totally ineffective. He based this opinion on fifty years of clinical experience and all my experience to date confirms this observation.
One of the biggest challenges in teaching provocative change works and provocative therapy is teaching students the need to improvise in client sessions. This is an essential skill for any effective coach or therapist. I talked to Frank Farrelly, the creator of Provocative Therapy extensively about this. He regularly lamented the fact that many workshop attendees wanted him to explain his work one piece at a time in a logical, digital, sequential sequence. Frank of course never obliged for two reasons. The first was that provocative style communication doesn’t work this way when working with clients and secondly dumbing down this multi levelled approach does the student no favours although they usually don’t appreciate this fact.
I have often described PCW as like “Miles Davis music” freeform and not following !” Of course, Frank continued to talk to people like that and not only helped thousands of clients including many catatonic clients who were abandoned by other therapists, but also trained a group of practitioners who were open enough to listen to him.
In PCW and classical provocative therapy the practitioner deliberately avoids this predictable and instead focusses 100% of assisting the client in every way possible, adopting a series of stances to create a change in thinking and feeling. This means working in “the here and now” and responding only to the client’s communications rather than simply giving the client a series of techniques to follow or reciting what is often literally little more than a pre-prepared script. In many of Franks provocative therapy workshops, some attendees struggled to accept that it’s entirely possible for a coach or therapist to work in this conversational non-digital sequential manner and would express immense frustration that Frank wouldn’t tell them what to do! I have the same experience some attendees who want to insist that the provocative style of training conforms to their pre- existing beliefs which of course are usually based around “the archeological dig” approach.
This year I set up what I call “The exploration group” These are individuals that have trained with me and who are interested in more in depth explorations of the PCW model. This is done on a 1 – 1 monthly basis and is mostly done by invitation. I’ll also be announcing some changes in how PCW will be taught and there will be more emphasis on teaching professional coaches and communicators who want to learn the full model rather than just the parts that they find easy. This is to avoid the same fate that befell NLP where many people have a surface level awareness and categorize themselves as all “doing NLP” These are exciting times for PCW and in future years I’ll be developing advanced practitioners and then professional trainers. You can be assured that all will have superb improvisation skills as well as in depth awareness and ability to demonstrate all aspects of the model.