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Nick Kemp Interview with Aaron Morton - Part 1 of 4

Nick Kemp in Bolder

AARON: Hi and welcome to Change Talks. Interviews that spread ideas and in this edition I am talking to Nick Kemp. Now Nick is the creator of Provocative Change Works, an approach to therapy that utilises three elements to create change in an individual. One is provoking through verbal and non-verbal interaction. Another is hypnosis and then finally time framing. His approach is very much in demand around the world and is always keen to demonstrate the effectiveness of it by working with actual clients in his groups. One of the things you'll notice about how Nick brands himself both online and in products is that it is always presented in a quality way and this interview goes into why he feels that branding is so important. Never shy to be controversial, Nick has frequently voiced his concerns about the sub-standard development of some within therapy, most notably within NLP and this interview is no different. You'll get a lot of quality points from this interview, so I hope you enjoy it.

NICK: I've had an excellent morning. I've had a two hour guitar lesson this morning with Martin Simpson, one of the world's best guitarists. So I'm in a very fine mood.

AARON: Brilliant. So how long have you been doing guitar for?

NICK: Oh, well, I mean proper lessons a few years, but I mean I've had instruments for the best part of 30 plus years.

AARON: So you're quite the musician then?

NICK: Well, you know, it's one thing having an instrument and another thing being a musician. I have more of a disposable income in this day and age to be able to afford all the things that I yearned after in days gone by.

AARON: And I would imagine your skills improved by playing with one of the world's best guitarists?

NICK: Well if you hang around smart, capable, people then it pretty much tends to rub off to some degree.

AARON: Well thanks a lot for doing this interview, I really appreciate it, and let's get going with this interview.

NICK: Sure, fire away. I got your questions but ask me anything you want.

AARON: Brilliant. Ok, well if we start with the first question then. You're know currently for your approach named Provocative Change Works and I was wondering whether you could begin to talk about how that approach has evolved from when you first began to what you now call Provocative Change Works.

NICK: Ok. Well the first question is when I first began... and just to back peddle a bit ... a lot people know me for my background in NLP, Hypnosis, through the Human Alchemy something series of CD's that came out from around the year 2000. I got interested in NLP in the late 90's and trained with Bandler and McKenna etc in London, but what a lot of people don't know is that from 1980 right through till the 90's, I was already doing workshops internationally on meditation, personal development, a whole bunch of other things, state related stuff. So my background goes back to really around 1980.


NICK: The interest in NLP came about because at that time I was working in the corporate sector mostly in the recruitment, sales and marketing sector, and we found it horrendously hard to find and recruit good members of staff. I was very much involved in the training and had an interest in communication and how you improve communication, because that whole industry is about meeting deadlines, using persuasion and all about getting results. I also come from a family of journalists so my whole background with family is from the media so I was brought up with media communication, interactions, influence, all these different things.


NICK: The NLP stuff came from the 90's and I'd already been interested in hypnosis and at the same time I was sort of investigating Richard Bandler's stuff. I was looking at people like Steven Brooks, who was an Ericksonion hypnosis guy and had an interest in sort of like philosophical stuff, all kinds of questioning approaches. The Provocative Change Works really started to evolve after I saw Frank Farrelly in 2004. On the Bournemouth South Coast, 17, I think it was 17 of us, turned up at workshop and none of knew Frank was teaching, never mind in the UK and that's when I met, for the first time, not only Frank, but I also hooked up with Andy Austin, who was in the same workshop for four days. I'd already trained with Richard Bandler at this point, for about five years and not only had I done all the standard courses which is a bit like collecting scout badges, 'Now first we do the Master Practitioner etc

AARON: And you got all of them?

NICK: There's always another one somewhere ... the Megalomaniac Master Practition ... So I'd done a lot of those and I'd also assisted on a shed load of courses from around 2000 to 2003 so I'd done lots of Practs and Master Practs. Bandler and McKenna at that time were also doing a whole bunch of hypnosis workshops which they did for a period, so I had exposure to a lot of different framing from these guys. When I met Frank, this was something quite different. Frank, in many ways, is the total opposite of stereotypical NLP. There's no grinding rock music, whooping applause, there's just Frank, basically working in an essentially conversational, but very provocative layered way and my initial impression of Frank was a bit like ... if you've ever seen 'The Raiders of the Lost Arc' series and in the third film, Sean Connery turns up who is Harrison Ford's dad.


NICK: Frank was a bit like Bandler's dad in that I'm thinking 'Oh my god there are so many similarities here between what Richard does, yet Frank was doing what he does, 12 years before NLP even turned up.

AARON: Right, ok.

NICK: Bandler and Austin first met Frank at a conference called Analysing the Analyst. Bandler then got Frank over for two days for a whole weekend and videoed the entire workshop. He then began to take all kinds of elements of what Frank does and you see that very clearly demonstrated in a lot of NLP. Both myself and Andy Austin and also Jamie Smart were at this 2004 workshop and we all commented massively on the similarities between Frank and Richard. Of course Frank being around for a lot longer.

AARON: So when you kind of decided what bits you were taking to make your Provocative Change Works did you find that you were edging more towards provocative therapy or did you still keep parts of the NLP in and the Hypnosis and things?

NICK: To start with, there was no real obvious intention in creating something completely different.


NICK: I mean my interest in working with Frank was really to explore and study his work ... I'm known in my blog ... people often talk about me bashing NLP and I continually repeat that it's not NLP I'm questioning, it's the behaviours that some people have, and the idea that within just a few weeks training, you suddenly become hugely equipped to be able to see private clients, paying clients and be able to give advice and pronounce yourself as one of the few geniuses that walk the planet. The development of Provocative Change Works came about, because around two years later in 2006, I was asked to go into BBC Radio Leeds and to talk about ... what they asked me about originally then was working with NLP and working with people with phobias, anxiety states and that kind of thing. And from an initial one hour session, that turned out to be a 26 week consecutive series of working live on air with people they provided, who had various problems. I started to listen back to some of these sessions, because my condition for doing this was to make sure that I had audio recordings of everything, because this would always be good publicity for future times. And I was listening back to a couple of the sessions and when you only have an hour to work with someone, you really don't have much time and if you're then going live on the air, at that time to around 50,000 people listening, you really don't want the client to say 'Well I feel worse than when I started and saw that nice Mr Kemp' so it was really important to do a very, very, good job. When I listened back to the sessions, I thought 'God Almighty, a lot of this sounds very similar to Frank Farrelly's work' and I didn't realise until then, how much I'd absorbed of what he teaches, in terms of my own approach. From 2006 ... back around 2006, I was still teaching NLP courses, because I had been teaching Practitioners Courses, Master Practitioners Courses from 2004 onwards and a lot of them as well. I mean, I would do two Practitioners a year, a Master Practitioner, at least two or three weekends, host Frank Farrelly, which I did from 2005. Hosted Doug O'Brien most years, and even hosted people like John Levalle, who some people will know as Bandler's co-trainer. So I'd had a lot of exposure with different people and I started to develop a way of working which not only used Franks approach, but also used a lot of the Ericksonian approaches which I'd found hugely, hugely, effective.

AARON: So when you were doing that ... you were hosting all those people ... and obviously you were working with clients as well, how much time did you actually spend on like dedicated learning away from the therapy room, or did you find that that was literally your learning zone?

NICK: I started seeing clients around 2006.

AARON: Alright.

NICK: Around the same time as the BBC sessions. Up until that point I was doing a lot of corporate training and a lot of public training.

AARON: Alright.

NICK: And at one point I was doing public trainings around every three weeks, doing a workshop. So in terms of learning, I would still attend trainings, but my view of learning is that it's important to learn from a whole multitude of different places, not just purely from straight ahead, NLP courses. There are some great courses, but also a lot of the courses are a little bit like flat-pack furniture you know. You know, you assemble them ... it's ok ... it's not great.

AARON: It will do.

NICK: It serves a function and a lot of the time my criticism of courses was that you'd have sorts of bits of information, especially in the accelerated courses, which in some cases, in real time, six and a half days. Then you are deemed to be a Practitioner. It would be a little bit like ... not to the same degree ... but it had kind of leaning towards that old Woody Allen joke where he says 'I took a course in speed reading, read War and Peace in 30 seconds – it's about Russia'. So I think that I've always advocated the importance of learning from a multitude of different places. Which means reading material, watching material, talking to people. In 2005 I set up the site NLPMPE3.com and interviewed lots and lots of different trainers. On there I've got Steve Andreas, Michael Breen, Paul McKenna, Richard Bandler twice, I've got Frank Farrelly, I've got Michael Neil. This was one, an opportunity for me to just talk to people independently outside of a seminar situation and also to promote something which was not territorially tied in to any one NLP or institution. For example Sue Knight is on there as well. Steve Andreas is on there. Dave Gordon's on there. Doug O'Brien's on there. Andrew Austin's on there. A big, big, range of different people.

Go to part 2 - Nick Kemp interview with Aaron Morton

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