Transforming Resistance: Working with the Challenges of Defense & Anxiety 

Steve Shapiro, AEDP Faculty Member

Ironically, many clients interfere with the very progress they seek either through their own resistance to the psychotherapy process or because their anxiety is too high and there is too much dysregulation to use the process effectively. Not infrequently, they terminate prematurely before reaching their goals.  This results in tragic consequences for the client, as well as frustration and a sense of failure for the therapist. While clients enter treatment with conscious motivation, resistance is unconscious and, therefore, difficult to address without a coherent system. Therapists typically interpret resistance in a personal way becoming confused, frustrated, and hopeless, with a tendency to hold the client responsible and label him/her as “unmotivated or resistant”. Participants will learn to move beyond resistance and simple symptom management into deep, transformational processes that releases resources of health and resilience. Learn to accelerate treatment using innovative techniques that implore clients to abandon chronic coping patterns that were once necessary, but have long outlived their usefulness and are now causing untoward suffering.

Therapists offer the promise of help often based on the presumption that the client will arrive with sufficient initial motivation, openness and willingness to face painful realities. Frequently this is not the case. Clinicians are rarely adequately prepared to address resistance directly and therapeutically, making it difficult to help more challenging clients.  Defenses can be seen as “a problem,” rather than an inevitable part of the process; defense restructuring can mistakenly be understood as an adversarial task, that we then avoid, rather than a compassionate and collaborative venture.

Therapists of all orientations and levels of experience will gain a clear understanding of the nature and function of defenses, and ways to transform them therapeutically so clients can align with the healthy, buried and previously inaccessible internal resources, as well as effective ways to regulate anxiety when it is too high. The principles taught can be readily integrated with your existing orientation and skill set. By adopting an active, focused, precise, experiential, attachment-based and emotionally engaged stance, therapists can create the safety and attunement necessary for patients to risk abandoning their resistance and shift to healthier functioning. The ultimate goal is to accelerate the healing process for clients, but also to help clinicians practice in a way that substantially reduces counter transference, is deeply rewarding, effective, and authentic, fully compatible with your personal and professional history.

Presented by: Steve Shapiro,
AEDP Faculty Member

Who’s invited:

This seminar is intended for professionals in mental health and the healing arts and sciences. 

Dates:       Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, 2020
         9:00am – 4:30pm
Location:  Pt Loma Nazarene University,
                  Fermanian Conference Center
                  3900 Lomaland Drive
                  San Diego, CA 92106

Register Here

Learning Objectives:

  • Construct reliable, internal clinical maps that will flexibly and accurately guide assessment of the patient and, consequently, therapist interventions/clinical stance, particularly understanding the difference between high anxiety and high defense.
  • Demonstrate the ability to respond in the moment effectively to the patient’s need based on a moment to moment psychodiagnostic assessment of various aspects of the patient’s experience, especially considering whether the patient is responding with high anxiety or high defense
  • Relate practical clinical skills as rapidly as possible to function in an effective, deep and efficient manner (technique).
  • Create a therapy style that is not only effective, accelerated and reduces suffering as rapidly as possible (patient benefit), but that is authentic and unique for each individual clinician, based on his both his/her professional experience/orientation, as well as his/her personality. (professional development).
  • Integrate therapist awareness of his/her emotional reactions in various scenarios, to develop greater affect/anxiety tolerance, to welcome and use countertransference in a positive/effective manner (personal/emotional)
  • Develop a clear understanding of the nature and function of defenses
  • Develop an active, focused, precise, experiential, attachment-based and emotionally engaged stance
  • Transform resistance and simple symptom management into a deep, transformational processes
  • Integrate defenses as an inevitable part of the process; a compassionate and collaborative venture.

Target Audience:
Psychologists, Psychoanalysts, Social Workers, Counselors/Marriage and Family Therapists, Creative Arts Therapists – All Levels. There is no conflict of interest or commercial support for this program.


Day One: 

9:00 – 9:30 Introduction/ overview
9:30 – 10:45 Moment to moment tracking
10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:30 Understanding high anxiety/dysregulation and high defense/resistance. Two different skill sets
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 Treatment of high defense
2:30 – 3:45 Treatment of high defense: video demonstration and discussion
3:30 – 3:45 Break
3:45 – 4:00 Group exercises
4:00 – 4:30 Q&A/Wrap-up

Day Two: 

9:00 – 9:30 Follow up from Day 1.Q & A
9:30 – 10:45 Understanding resistance to connection with therapist: Didactic and video demonstration
10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:30 Treatment of high anxiety
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch
1:30 – 3:30 Treatment of high anxiety: video demonstration and discussion
3:30 – 3:45 Break
3:45 – 4:00 Understanding portrayals
4:00 – 4:30 Q&A/Wrap-up

Fees, Registration and Continuing Education (CE):
CE Credits: 12

Registration Fees (including CEs and Lunch Both Days)

  • $300 For Students/Associates
  • $375  Early Bird (ends March 27, 2020)
  • $425 (After March 27, 2020)

Registration for Transforming Resistance: Working with the Challenges of Defense and Anxiety. Click link below:

Seminar Code: ISTDP– SD-2020
Presenter: Steve Shapiro, PhD
Dates: 6/6/20-6/7/20
Metro: San Diego, CA


Contact Karen Newell at R. Cassidy Seminars:
866-992-9399  X105
Office Hours:  Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 2:00 pm PST


There is a limited amount of lodging accommodations on the university campus with some units having an ocean view. Cost is $200 per evening and each unit sleeps up to 5 people. Linens are $20 per set per person. If interested, (this is a first come basis) contact us at