Defiance vs. Compliance—Two Faces Of The Reactant Client

John Norcross on Different Approaches that Work with Each Extreme

Rich Simon

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 from that series, 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!


John Norcross is a professor of psychology and distinguished university fellow at the University of Scranton, a clinical psychologist, and editor of the Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session. He’s the author, coauthor, and editor of many books and publications. This clip is taken from his session in our challenging cases video course:

Tough Customers: Treating Clients with Challenging Issues
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  • Customize treatment to the characteristics and needs of your client


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Topic: Professional Development | Challenging Clients & Treatment Populations

Tags: attachment disorder | attachment disorders | challenging clients | Clifton Mitchell | clinical psychologist | clinical psychology | conversation | Janina Fisher | John Norcross | psychologist | psychology | psychotherapy | reactance | relationships | resistance | severe attachment disorder | therapy | tough customers | William Doherty

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