Tools of Provocative Therapy

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25 Tools of Provocative Therapy

1 Label and categorise the patient Filing the patient neatly away under a slightly inane label provokes him to free himself from that label.

2 ‘Do more of the same!’ Encouraging an escalation of unhealthy habitual behaviour provokes the ending of bad habits.

3 ‘Don’t rush into anything! Suggesting sensible postponement of any life changes provokes immediate action.

4 ‘What’s wrong with that? Questioning the existence of any problem provokes focus on the real issue – and possible solutions.

5 Use nicknames Teasing with less than complimentary nicknames provokes the patient to defend himself and dump the behaviour suggested by the nickname.

6 Dwell on the patient’s positive attributes Distracting compliments on unrelated advantages provokes affirmation of self-worth in the key areas.

7 Reinforce a negative self-image Excusing the patient for everything on account of a minor limitation provokes an affirmation of self-worth.

8 Point out the hidden benefits Enthusing about the secondary gain to be obtained from a problem provokes a re-assessment of the issue.

9 Cheerful exaggeration of the problem Magnifying the problem provokes the patient to put things into perspective.

10 Congratulate the patient Complimenting the patient on being privileged enough to have such a problem provokes a re-evaluation of life issues.

11 Play the ‘Blame Game’ Encouraging patients to blame everything and everybody for their problems provokes them to take responsibility for their lives.

12 Make an absurd suggestion Offering insane solutions to problems provokes the patient to come up with realistic solutions of his own.

13 Surrealise the conversation Taking the consultation into dreamland provokes the patient to come down to earth and stay grounded.

14 ’Just say yes!’ Ordering a patient to agree with an insulting ‘analysis’ of their life situation provokes a ‘no’ - followed by a more life-affirming viewpoint.

15 ‘There really is no solution to your problem!’ Conceding that the situation is hopeless and beyond treatment provokes the revelation of appropriate solutions.

16 Give contradictory messages Offering conflicting ‘advice’ provokes the patient to examine the problem more critically and assume ownership of a practical solution.

17 Play the role of ‘Higher Authority’ Ordering the patient around provokes a self-assertive response.

18 Quote ‘Instant research’ Concocting spurious statistics to support an inane argument against healthy change provokes a flight into sanity.

19 ‘Everything is in balance and must not be changed’ Warning patients of the danger of abandoning their necessary roles in the world provokes healthy risk-taking for self-improvement.

20 ‘This is how the world works!’ Appealing to the patient to accept things as they are provokes meaningful action towards a better life.

21 ‘This is no time to develop a conscience!’ Reminding patients that they can delay resolving moral and ethical dilemnas provokes decisive action.

22 Talk about anything except the problem Going off at tangents and talking about unrelated matters provokes the patient to start ‘talking turkey’ about core issues. 23 Use a ‘unifactoral hypothesis’ to explain everything Using one wacky theory to explain away every problem provokes healthy discrimination and adaptive solutions to different problems.

24 Sing to the patient Teasing the patient with a song that shows how predictable and repetitive the problem is provokes him to break free of the unhelpful behavioural pattern.

25 Give the patient a ridiculous choice ‘Forcing’ the patient to choose between two ridiculous solutions to his problem provokes him to come up with a sane and practical third solution.


Having acquired permission from the patient, any Provocative Tool may be used at any time in consultation by the Provocative Therapist as illustrated in the diagram below:


The Dynamic of Provocative Therapy