Provocative thoughts and paying attention for integrated learning

One of the challenges in creating a training programme for a new model is that inevitably everybody has differences in learning preferences and learning styles. Inevitably whatever you do some folks will love it and some won’t. With Provocative trainings, this is amplified as unlike many NLP trainings we are now teaching in a LOGICAL – DIGITAL – SEQUENTIAL manner, so it really requires attendees to WATCH and LISTEN.


When Frank Farrelly the creator of Provocative Therapy came to Leeds in 2005, he presented his work though a series of client demos. This is how he worked and had done so for decades. On day one as the host of the event I was approached by a well known NLP trainer who had been given a free place on the course (and who was late on both days to the training) that was most insistent that I tell Frank “THE GROUP NEEDS EXERCISES!”


I politely pointed out that “the group” didn’t really have any awareness of what Frank was doing, so it might be an idea for them to listen to him as he created the model and has 40 year’s experience of using it with thousands of clients!
On another of Frank’s trainings a well known Clean Language trainer approached me after the first 90 minutes and asked if the first 90 minutes was typical of the whole model. I respectfully suggested that he might benefit from watching and listening so he could gain some insight into the model. Of course neither he of the previous NLP trainer would consider volunteering as demo subjects which is without doubt one of the best ways to get some insight into the process.


When I started teaching Provocative Change Works it was obvious to meet that if people were to have any chance of grasping the model, they needed a lot of exposure to the process. This meant that a practitioner training needed to be a full 10 days. The first 3 days are really an introduction where people get to watch demos and do some exercises, usually on day 2 or 3. With PCW level 2 there is more emphasis of deconstructing client sessions on video. Some attendees have limited concentration to do this and others love it! A common misconception is that PCW is only about provocation and adopting stances. Even though I endlessly explain this, some folks still don’t get that there are three elements to PCW, all equally crucial and interdependent. See 
We video every event and keep a written record of the flow of each training. A PCW training day is typically four 90 min blocks of time.

PCW Level 2 example from recent Dutch training (Thanks to Dr Sue for breakdown)
Day 1 – 37% exercises, `13% demos, 50% discussion, Q and A
Day 2 – 37% exercises, 33% demos, 30% Q and A and discussion
Day 3 – 68% exercises, 25% demos, 7% Q and A and discussion
Day 4 – 75% exercises, 12.5% demos, 12.5% Q and A and discussion


In total the group completed 19 exercises over the four days, some taking as little as 10 minutes and some taking 90 minutes. In the recent Holland level 2 training we spent 14.25 hours on hours out of the 24-training period! Of course the attendees are asked to make observations during the demos, so these could also genuinely be classed as “exercises”
Level 3 training is more focused on getting the attendees to demonstrate what they can do, so there are less demos.

I fully appreciate that some people “just want to do stuff” but with respect often they don’t really have sufficient information or awareness to really know yet what they are doing. I talked about this with peers and they all made similar comments about this issue. Not every approach is for everybody and that’s fine. Some people like to learn “techniques” and have massive folders of information. However my experience is that the best coaches and trainers are able to learn in many ways and always are respectful of those who have spent years creating the model being taught! Frank drove some NLP folks crazy as they “just wanted the formula” Frank endlessly lamented the fact that many (not all attendees) didn’t really want to study and just wanted “unconscious installation” or for trainers to dumb down teachings to a Homer Simpson level of understanding…

STOP Press – This blog has provoked a great deal of discussion and debate in recent days. A number of Provocative Therapy trainers (as opposed to PCW) echoed my observations. In my view the tragedy is that both PCW and PT offer extraordinary possibilities to those with open enough minds to embrace these tools

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