Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 69–80 | Cite as

A Multi-Theoretical, Evidence-Based Approach for Understanding and Managing Adolescent Resistance to Psychotherapy

  • John Sommers-FlanaganEmail author
  • Brent G. Richardson
  • Rita Sommers-Flanagan
Original Paper


Adolescents are often labeled as “resistant” to psychotherapy. Rather than blaming adolescent clients or psychotherapists, this article conceptualizes adolescent resistance as normal behavior emanating from a challenging situation. Based on a developmentally sensitive foundation and drawing from person-centered, motivational, solution-focused, choice theory, cognitive-behavioral, and multicultural perspectives, several practical and evidence-based strategies for managing, reducing, or eliminating resistance are provided. Case vignettes are used to illustrate specific strategies. Successful psychotherapy with adolescents requires flexibility and openness, integration of diverse theoretical perspectives with contemporary empirical knowledge, and an attitude of respect for adolescent autonomy.


Adolescents Psychotherapy Resistance Integration 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Sommers-Flanagan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brent G. Richardson
    • 2
  • Rita Sommers-Flanagan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Counselor Education, College of Education and Human SciencesUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  2. 2.Department of School and Community Counseling, School Counseling, College of Social Sciences, Health, and EducationXavier UniversityCincinnatiUSA

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