Defiance vs. Compliance—Two Faces Of The Reactant Client

John Norcross on Different Approaches that Work with Each Extreme

Reactance is a personality characteristic that manifests as one of two extremes—defiance and opposition at one end of the spectrum, and compliance and dependency on the other.

According to John Norcross, author of Psychotherapy Relationships That Work, knowing where to start with a reactant client is the key to forging a successful therapeutic alliance. That’s why assessing client characteristics is the cornerstone of John’s work.

In this video clip, John gives us a clear and compassionate take on reactance—what it is, how it’s different from resistance, and how to begin with each extreme. All that in less than 3 minutes!



Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.