Provocative Coaching Using Humour – A Story about Frank Farrelly by Sue Knight

This is a story told by Sue Knight about Frank Farrelly who died earlier this year….

“OK SusiQ” Frank pulled my chair closer and tapped me on the arm. “What’s the issue?”

I had prepared for this moment. I was hosting a programme with Frank Farrelly, master of Provocative Therapy, as I had done sometimes twice a year for nearly 20 years. The group had pushed for me to have a one on one with him in their presence. I could see the mischievous looks on their faces, but in fact I was ready for a session with Frank. It had been a few years since the previous ‘formal’ one.

Just to be in his presence was therapy! I always found that after I had been with Frank for a few days that I became much clearer in knowing and asking for what I really wanted for one thing.

So I knew that he insisted that whoever took the chair with him had a ‘real juicy’ issue. So I considered what was going on in my life right now. Two issues I came up and I started to anticipate what he would do with each.

I thought I could predict what would happen if I brought the first issue that I had thought of. I was thinking along the lines “If I say that… he will say this and then I can … and so on”. Then I thought, well, I have another issue and I thought this one through too “….if I say that, I know Frank, he will try to provoke me on that in this way, and if he does then I will do that, so that will be OK”

So there I was prepared for the session (or so I thought) and I took the chair alongside him.

He asked the question. “I have two issues Frank” I said confidently.

“Let’s deal with the third!!!!” he replied with that knowing mischievous genius!

More on Provocative Coaching

The way that Frank described Provocative was ‘provoking a healing response’. It is an approach that challenges many of the rules of traditional coaching and in particular uses humour as a powerful way of changing perspectives.

And as one of my delegates said “Learning about ‘Provocative’ has set me free”.

More from Sue at

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