I don’t believe in resistance. When my consultees talk about their clients’ "resistance", I immediately stop them and have them discuss what the client is doing to "resist". I believe in fear. I believe in reflexive avoidance of that which makes us uncomfortable or retraumatized. If my client "resists" my suggestion it’s either because I’m pushing too hard, or she doesn’t understand the request.
Structural dissociation (See the 2 "Haunted Self" posts, from June), describes how trauma or bad attachment can create an Apparently Normal Part (ANP) and an Emotional (or trauma-feeling) Part (EP). One of the functions of the ANP is to avoid any triggering of flashbacks, affect, or cognition of the traumatic event or events. That’s not resistance, that’s a reflex. It’s my job as the therapist to help clients identify these reflexes and gain conscious (ANP) control over whether they choose to "go there" or keep "it" tucked away. I need to provide a therapeutically safe environment, a way for clients to tolerate distressing affect, "containers" for intolerable affect, and knowledge that if something is "too much" that everything stops. With some clients this takes minutes. With others it takes years. At that point the avoidance reflex shifts to a sigh and "let’s do it."
Then there’s non-resistance resistance. It goes like this: Client and Txist
Cl: I don’t want to do anything today. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to deal with my stuff!
Tx: Got it. That means you’re not crazy. What sane person would want to deal with this stuff?
Tx: You willing to do it anyway?
Cl: (whining a little): Okay. . .