When both client and therapist are unclear about the source of resistance, it can bring treatment to a halt. Renowned therapist Steve Andreas believes that checking in with clients about their objections to change from the start of therapy 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?”

Here, Andreas explains his method.

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.”

Take narcissism, for example. As Andreas explains in his recent Networker article, “Adjusting the Unconscious,” narcissism “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.”


Steve Andreas

Steve Andreas, MA, was a developer of NLP methods and the author of Six Blind Elephants, Transforming Your Self, and Virginia Satir: the Patterns of Her Magic. He was coauthor, with his wife Connirae, of Heart of the Mind and Change Your Mind—and Keep the Change.

Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.