A gestalt-experiential perspective on resistance

J Clin Psychol. 2002 Feb;58(2):175-83. doi: 10.1002/jclp.1141.


The authors present background on the gestalt-experiential understanding of resistance, conceptualized to be either resistance to awareness or resistance to contact. The authors discuss why they do not use the term resistance and describe the phenomena as a client's self-protective attempt to avoid the anxiety necessitated by change. Such resistant behaviors occur outside a client's awareness and often result in an ambivalence or conflict about change. The authors also describe using in-session experiments as a way to engage with the client in exploring such a state of ambivalence or conflict. Finally, they respond to the case studies presented elsewhere in this issue and propose intervention strategies consistent with the gestalt-experiential perspective.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Countertransference
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Female
  • Gestalt Theory
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Psychotherapeutic Processes*
  • Treatment Refusal / psychology*
  • Unconscious, Psychology