Anyone wishing to use this approach must acquire explicit permission from the recipient every time it’s used. Nobody should ever be ambushed and have neohumour inflicted upon them with their stated permission.
Brian asks for permission as follows:
“Do I have your explicit permission to say things to you that in any other context could be seen as provocative, ridiculous, rude, absurd, cheeky, scatological, eschatological, surreal and generally paradoxical and contrarian?”
When permission is requested in subsequent sessions, the most common response is some variation of ‘Get on with it!’. However, it is necessary to seek permission before every session as there are times when people are not up for provocation and prefer just to talk or have some counselling.
NOTE: Suitability: On very rare occasions, people with unstable psychological or endocrine conditions may not be suitable for this process. Careful discretion by the practitioner is therefore required.
2. The Golden Rule
Frank Farrelly (obituary) the founder of Provocative Therapy in the 1970’s was adamant that no one should use this contrarian approach without adhering to a very simple Golden Rule:
The Golden Rule:
“Only ever provoke
with affection in the heart
and a twinkle in the eye.”
Affection in the heart is what the father of counselling, Carl Rogers, described as love and ‘unconditional positive regard’ for the individual. The twinkle in the eye indicates a playfulness, and leaves the recipient in no doubt that s/he truly has goodwill and is only gently teasing the part of their personality or subself that may be holding them back.
Ending or stopping the session: People are invited to stop the process at any time, simply by saying ‘Enough!’. In 27 years of using this approach Brian can remember only one example of anybody ever doing this.
“If someone succeeds in provoking you, realise that
your mind is complicit in the provocation.”