Can “Helping” Actually Hurt the Resistant Client?

Psychotherapy Networker

Find Out What Really Works from Expert Clifton Mitchell



Start by asking questions.

It’s the most effective way to disrupt the pattern of resistance that keeps your client stuck according to Clifton Mitchell who wrote the book on the subject, Effective Techniques for Dealing with Highly Resistant Clients.

Ask about the minutiae of your client’s life. Explore the client’s pain. Listen carefully and you’re likely to hear a flash of anger, a hint of self-disgust, or some equally charged spark of emotion. Follow that clue and you’re on the way to identifying the emotionally compelling reason for your client's resistance to change.

Watch how Clifton lays out the process and let us know what you think:


Clifton Mitchell is a professor at East Tennessee State University. He’s the author of Effective Techniques for Dealing with Highly Resistant Clients. This clip is taken from his session in our challenging cases video course:

Tough Customers: Treating Clients with Challenging Issues
These clinical innovators will help you master a variety of new approaches and methods that can transform your work with your most challenging cases. You’ll learn how to:

  • Successfully move past impasses with borderline, narcissistic, attachment-disordered, and self-destructive clients

  • Gain and retain therapeutic leverage, use empathic confrontation, and repair certain ruptures in the clinical relationship

  • Identify and avoid common errors such as sounding like a disappointed parent, relieving the client’s pain too soon, and letting your own vulnerabilities get in the way

  • Customize treatment to the characteristics and needs of your client


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Topic: Challenging Clients & Treatment Populations

Tags: Clifton Mitchell | emotion | Janina Fisher | resistance | tough customers | William Doherty | Ask The Experts | Challenging Clients & Treatment Populations

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2 Comments

Thursday, February 14, 2013 10:48:24 AM | posted by Paulina Lightbody
Thanks for sharing your ideas. I find this post really helpful.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 5:06:06 PM | posted by neil mulholland, ph.d.
Thanks Clifton for this slice. It's given me some ideas to add with a new resistant suicide contemplator.
neil