Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline


First Advisor

Joffrey Suprina

Second Advisor

Marguerite Chabau


This qualitative phenomenological study involved an exploration of the lived experiences of 10 licensed therapists with substantial encounters with resistant clients. The phenomenon under investigation is relevant to those working in the mental health industry because resistance in psychotherapy is a common challenge. It is not a matter of if a therapist will encounter resistant clients, it is a matter of when. The goal in this qualitative study was to discover how the 10 participants, all of whom were experienced therapists, navigated through resistance; to identify the methods and procedures they used; and to compile their successful approaches and methods into recommendations for supervisees, supervisors, and counseling educators. The findings of this study revealed therapists’ perceptions of resistance depended on their own theoretical orientation. Also, therapists providing mandated counseling were more likely to encounter resistance than were those providing voluntary therapy. Results also showed resistance to therapy is not all negative, but a positive indication of effective therapy as opposed to a passive response to therapy. Other findings that emerged in this study included that motivational interviewing is an effective approach in encouraging ambivalent clients. Though resistance in therapy is a challenge to therapists across various modalities, it can develop the acumen of therapists when they persevere. Finally, some suggestions were advanced to clinicians and counseling educators and areas for future study were recommended.


First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge my committee members, each of whom has played an integral role in my training and growth. My deepest gratitude to Dr. Joffrey Suprina for being my favorite teacher, mentor, and counselor and for not giving up on me when diverse challenges and obstacles assailed me in this program and I almost gave up. I truly could not have made it this far without Dr. Suprina. I appreciate Dr. Marguerite Chabau for all her priceless feedbacks on my dissertation until it began to make sense both in content and format. Finally, my gratitude to my editor, Amy Gralewski. My utmost gratitude to you all.