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Stop Working Harder than Your Clients! – Understanding resistance and helping clients change

Event number: 17644
6.5 CPD hours
Study Group Network
Presenter(s): Dr Matthew Berry, MAPS

Whilst many clients present for treatment ready and willing to change, there are some situations where this is not the case. These clients are all-too-commonly labelled as being ‘resistant to change' or ‘in denial’ about the issues. However, research suggests that this is not a barrier to positive treatment outcomes, provided that the clinician has appropriate understanding of why the client is stuck, and effective responses in their toolkit.

 This interactive study group draws from the presenter’s experience working with drug and alcohol populations over 17 years, and describes principles and interventions that may also be helpful for clinicians working with similar ego-syntonic presentations such as OCD, mania, eating disorders, personality disorders and some self-harming behaviours. 

 Six common causes for this type of presentation are described, along with a range of strategies that may assist in resolving each type for the client’s best outcomes.  These include skills from the 2012 third edition of Motivational Interviewing, as well as strategies drawn from other therapeutic approaches.

The seminar will also describe a three-dimensional model that helps clinicians to formulate the process of change with ego-syntonic behaviours, and set goals accordingly.

Please note that this study group will focus on overcoming the barriers to treatment for these disorders – not treatment itself. It will complement the concepts and skills discussed in Matthew Berry’s "Unravelling the mystery of addiction” workshops being held nationally through the APS Institute. 

Learning Outcomes

1. Understand why natural change often fails.

2. Differentiate therapist and client factors involved when change stalls.

3. Recognise different types of ambivalence and why these can result in ‘being stuck’.

4. Identify common clinician responses that can worsen resistance.

5. Identify and understand six common causes for lack of motivation to change in clients.

6. Apply 12 microskills that can help negotiate these challenges.

7. Use a ‘3-Key Tasks’ model of change to formulate ego-syntonic behaviours

Note for attendees:

*The Study Group Network aims to keep fees affordable and does not provide lunch. Morning/afternoon tea is included and you are welcome to bring your own lunch or purchase something nearby.

About the presenter(s)

Matthew Berry is a clinical psychologist with a primary interest in addiction, substance use and related compulsive appetitive behaviours.
His career to date has included voluntary, forensic, adult, youth, community and residential settings and is currently in private practice in Melbourne, involving training, supervision and clinical work.

He lectures post-graduate addiction counselling, and has developed and delivered workshops on Understanding Substance use and Addiction; Motivational Interviewing; Working with Resistance for both the APS and the NZPS.


Please make sure you read the group description and details carefully before registering for a study group. CANCELLATION POLICY: As we keep study group fees to a minimum and presenters are paid according to the numbers who attend, we prefer not to provide refunds other than for 'exceptional, unforeseeable circumstances'. We are happy for you to nominate an alternative attendee or you may transfer to another study group, but only within 2 months as this adds extra admin costs. Cancellations up to 14 days prior to the study group you are registered for will receive a full refund. Cancellations within 1-13 days of the study group will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations within 24 hours of a study group will not be refunded. All cancellations must be given in writing.

Online registration


Psychology Melbourne
2/50 Queen Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Venue is wheelchair accessible
Start date: 24/11/2017
End date: 24/11/2017
Time: 9.00am - 4.30pm


APS member: $207
APS student member: $75
Non APS member: $414


APS - Melbourne Branch
The Study Group Network (SGN) is an initiative of the APS Melbourne Branch designed to improve psychologists’ clinical and research skills and to keep them current with new developments.
Contact Karen Holst
03 8662 3300