7 Signs of Client Resistance to Change

The list below is meant to help social workers identify strategies to help clients overcome resistance to change. It could also be used as a way to self-check.

  1. Silence or minimal talking during sessions (Are you avoiding?)
  2. Engaging in intellectual talk by using technical terms/abstract concepts or asking questions of a social worker that are not related to client issues or problems (Are you intellectualizing, making excuses, distracting?)
  3. Being preoccupied with past events instead of current issues (Are you ruminating, blaming, shaming?)
  4. Discounting, censoring, or editing thoughts when asked about them by a social worker (Are you minimizing the problem?)
  5. False promising (Are you appeasing others by saying you will change when you are not ready to act?)
  6. Flattering a social worker in an attempt to soften them so that the client will not be pushed to act (Are you focusing on your family and friends as ways to avoid personal effort?)
  7. Payment delays or refusals. ( Are you claiming you don’t have time or money to make the change?)

from Social Work ASWB Masters Practice Test, 2018.

photography by Nate Dale, New Adventure Productions.