Thereare two types of resistance sustain talk and active resistance.Sustain talk is about the behavior of the target or change, itreflects on only one side of uncertainty. It cannot occur withoutfirst identifying a focus. On the other hand, active resistance ismore than just personal defiance and involves mobilizing others toresist the change e.g. strike.
Aclient resistance situation may occur which in the event may bedifficult to deal with. For instance, it is sometimes difficult todifferentiate sustain talk from early forms of change talk. Thisoccurs in statements like, “I can’t stand that my schoolprinciple is making me come here” there might be the start ofchange talk. “I might come here if my school principle didn’tmake me.’’ Motivational interviewers have expressed the aboveobservation. Dart, M. A. (2011) acknowledges that sustain talk can bea step towards the correct direction. When clients take a behavior tobe something that just is or not something that is causing themmayhem then there is no need to defend it. Barth further explainsthat it may not be possible to draw out change talk in the beginning,on the other hand the practitioner may need to target developingclient openness to ambivalence. Hence when a client says, ‘’Well,it never occurred to me that it might develop to be an issue, and Idon’t really see that it is’’ this could mark the beginning ofa change process.
Theinfusion of concepts (i.e. resistance, sustain and change talk)develops great difficulties for researchers who aim at expressing theeffect of a particular variable. Therefore, application of certaintechniques such as listening skills is extremely vital. The clientsshould train their ears to hear such features and respond to theadjustment-directed element contained within the resistance orsustain talk statements.
Withregard to an active resistant talk, the challenge in clientresistance situation occurs when, for instance in the joiningtechnique, where the therapist instead of interpreting the client’sdefensive tactics, actively plays them out with the clients. Underthis situation, the therapist might travel with client through theirdepressing inner world and say, ‘’ I see you’re depressed and Ifeel hopeless with you,’’ rather than interpreting the client’sdepression as a cover for suppressed anger. This active emulation ofthe client’s defensive resistance differs from standardinterpretations of client’s resistance in the sense that it is lessabstract and more objective. The therapist makes it even moredifficult by taking on the clients defensive functions: clients canoppose the therapist only by opposing themselves. The therapistfurther undercuts the client’s usual pattern of behavior bybehaving ‘’crazier’’ than the client, which will, it ishoped, coerce the client to renounce his/ her defensive position.
Itis therefore important for the therapist to side with the client andidentify the amount of uncertainty that the clients feels towardschange. The therapist must meet this uncertainty with a paradoxicalmessage (change/ don’t) if the client presents a paradoxicalmessage to him/her. Both the client and the therapist must alsoarrive together at a specifically defined goal that is easilyunderstood to the client in terms of desirable change in behavior,this can be as simple as ceasing undesirable lifestyle practices.
Dart,M. A. (2011). Motivationalinterviewing in nursing practice: Empowering the patient.Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
MillerW. R. & Rollnick S. (2012), MotivationalInterviewing, Third Edition: Helping People Change,GuilfordPress.