One of the most powerful tools to move through resistance might not be exactly what you think. Most of the time as therapists we want a concrete tool, technique, or activity that is going to get us to the next step and break through resistance.
You want to come into your next session with the exact gameplan of how it’s going to go.
AND 99.9% of the time it doesn’t exactly work out how you planned. The technique or activity might get rejected in favor of silence OR a client might even struggle to get back into the Playroom for you to even start to suggest a therapy activity.
So now what? I wanted to get back to basics to talk about the one tool that you can always rely on to help you move through resistance.
*Drum roll please*
The therapeutic relationship!
Maybe you’re saying - but I already know about the importance of the relationship, I need more strategies, skills, and techniques.
I would gently challenge you to not underestimate the power of sitting with and building rapport with a client. The therapeutic relationship is one of the most important powers of play because it opens the door for everything else!
And according to common factors research, of the things that are within control of the therapist the relationship is the number one factor for change - beyond our theory, techniques, and intervention.
Going one step further in Person Centered Therapy (in which Child Centered Therapy is based upon) Carl Rogers would say the relationship is not only necessary but sufficient for client change based upon the therapist providing the three core relational conditions of congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy.
My hope is all of this allows you to see the profound power of being with clients in their resistance and fostering the relationship with honest unconditional positive regard (and yes that means for the sessions where clients are putting their heads down or disappearing into their sweatshirts).
And…. because resources are my thing, I didn’t want to leave you hanging without ideas for the other stuff - you know the strategies, skills, and techniques.
If you are looking for more tips and suggestions about building the therapeutic relationship check out Four Ways to Build and Keep Rapport in Play Therapy. Also check out this FREE Mini Master Class on 12 tips and tools to increase engagement and move through resistance!
AND if you need more support with resistance in the playroom, check out my training Rolling With Resistance: Play Therapy Interventions For Your Most difficult To Engage Clients, with 25+ Play therapy activities to unlock resistance and increase engagement!
I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC,