Dealing with Uncooperative clients…

As a new grad, I’m currently waiting for my PLMHP license to complete approval process by Nebraska DHHS before I can begin my new job in the meantime, I’m completing this new employee clinical training manual.   In one section it describes the uncooperative client who is unwilling to participate in treatment but often required to do so as a court-order (Capstone, n.d.).   “…Extroversion, assertiveness, empathy, honesty respect and openness, have been identified as the most important aspect of getting the uncooperative client to come around and begin working with the threapist” (Capstone, n.d.).  What follows are tips from my clinical training manual to work with involuntary clients…

  1. “Joining/Empathy: The therapist empathies with the feeling of being forced to come to therapy” (Capstone, n.d.).
  2. “Substitute a mutually acceptable goal: With the involuntary client, find something else the client does want to work on and demonstrate usefulness of psychotherapy in that area” (Capstone, n.d.)
  3. Family Therapy:  The biggest trap in family therapy is to take sides.  The therapist must remain above blaming and keep attention on how weveryone will ahve to adjust to the problem being gone” (Capstone, n.d.).
  4. What is of greatest importance is that you do enjoy your work.  Try to understand the client’s resistance, shift the responsibility towards the client for their life, don’t work harder than they are.

 Click here to read about what I learned from resistance from my internship at a substance abuse recovery center.

Click here to read a post on resistance as it is defined within the framework of motivational interviewing.

Click here to read my attempt to describe the differences between coercion and confrontation as it occurs in therapy.


Capstone, (n.d.) Clinical Skills & Clinical Skill Enhancement. Capstone Behavioral Health.
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