It was the renowned Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung (1875–1961), who taught us that whatever you resist persists. What he meant by that is the more you resist anything in life, the more it will remain a problem – unless you accept it and feel the impact in order to move forward more freely.
A skilled therapist can be curious to explore the energy behind the client’s apparent resistance – any secondary gains and the underlying reasons for staying stuck.
Client resistance happens. A lot. Despite the fact that we know – objectively speaking – that this is something a therapist can remedy, whether that’s by identifying personal biases that may have triggered resistance, empathising better or taking steps to correct any therapeutic breach, sometimes it’s hard not to take it personally. It can feel like “your fault” and may also trigger some negative judgment of the client. If you come up against client resistance what can you do to ensure that you don’t give up?
There is some suggestion that issues with client resistance stem purely from a therapist’s ego. It’s the ego that drives us to try to protect our progress and pride as a professional and to get defensive if things aren’t going entirely to plan. Unfortunately, once defensiveness is there it can make communication difficult, especially when it comes to hearing what a client is actually trying to say. So, crucial to ensuring you’re able to persist in this kind of situation is dealing with the ego so that you can release defensiveness and not take the resistance personally.
Even the best therapists have human moments and ego is a very human trait. If you feel put down or diminished then you may feel a burning desire to establish superiority or show that person that you’re smarter than them. However, being able to put the ego aside and listen objectively to criticism can be transformative when it comes to ongoing practice. So, how can you approach this?
Moments of client resistance can feel incredibly challenging but often have a lot to offer when it comes to expansion and development, both professionally and personally. At the Grove, we’ve been running CPD training courses for over 10 years and can help you persist.