Anxious clients who voluntarily come to therapy rarely say, “I came here because I have no intention of changing right now.” And yet even clients who clearly have a desire to feel better may fight change at every turn by continually saying “yes, but” or otherwise embodying therapy’s least welcome visitor—resistance. And when both client and therapist are unclear about the source of resistance, it can bring the process of treatment to a halt.
Steve Andreas, a seasoned expert in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, believes that checking in with clients about their objections to change from the start avoids many problems down the road. Even with clients struggling to cope with severe panic, he begins by asking, “Do you have any objections to not having that panicked response?”
In the following video clip, Andreas explains why he begins sessions this way.
Steve Andreas, MA, has been learning, teaching, and developing briefest therapy methods for over 55 years. He’s the author of Virginia Satir: The Patterns of Her Magic; Transforming Negative Self-Talk; and Transforming Your Self: Becoming Who You Want to Be.
As Andreas notes, while sometimes people’s symptoms have no relevance in their current life, very often, they have some kind of positive intention or positive function—what’s referred to as "secondary gain."
As Andreas explains in a recent Networker article, narcissism, for example, "feels good and is often richly rewarded in business and politics." Keeping this in mind, he says, "can be useful in maintaining a sense of balance and perspective." There's "immense pleasure," Andreas adds, in "being able to resolve many simple client problems rapidly, making therapy much cheaper, effective, and more available to so many who need it."
Did you enjoy this video? You might also like Andreas' article "Adjusting the Unconscious," in which he explains how, many times, therapists can bring about lasting change by working with the client's unconscious processes. Or check out "When Helping Doesn't Help," by David Burns, in which he shares an exercise that not only helps clients understand the root of their resistance, but voluntarily move past it and engage more fully in treatment.