1.25 CE Credits Available
Psychotherapy with the Unmotivated Patient
by Erving Polster
This video depicts renowned therapist and teacher Erving Polster artfully and adeptly plying his trade with Gerald, the type of client we have all struggled with: bright, cynical, emotionally detached, overly-intellectual, and seemingly determined to defeat this therapist as he has previous ones. 
Polster summarizes his approach: "Obvious therapeutic techniques will alienate him. Instead I'll try to stay in close contact with him, more like a savvy uncle than a therapist, meeting and matching him with sarcasm, humor, confrontation, and common sense. Everything I say will be as close to the truth and responsive to our interchanges as possible."

In numerous vignettes over the course of treatment, we watch Polster continuously engage Gerald in here-and-now interactions, matching wits, joining him with humor, and challenging his defenses with a delicate balance of confrontation and empathy. Erving and Miriam Polster provide illuminating commentary, sharing with the viewers mature wisdom garnered from a lifetime of practicing therapy and training thousands of therapists. It is hard to imagine any therapist who will not benefit from the viewing of this video.

What therapists are saying…

"Thanks for your super quick reply! I love that video. I think it's the best individual therapy demonstration I have seen."

 -- Nick Gazzola, PhD, Coordinator, Educational Counselling University of Ottawa, Canada
"This powerfully dramatizes an effective approach to therapy with a highly resistant, intellectualized client. Consisting of vibrant, even humorous exchanges, this video will be helpful to therapists of a variety of theoretical orientations"

 -- Todd Corywell, PhD, Psychologist, Seattle, Washington
"Polster's video was riveting, leading to considerable class discussion. The encounter between therapist and client was often provocative and encouraged much lively class discussion and debate. As such, the video was particularly instructive and covered a broad range of sessions that allowed the viewer to witness client-therapist change and growth over time."

-- Tom Mabee, PhD Adjunct Graduate Psychology Faculty, Nova Southeastern University, Florida
"This video is a marvelous teaching instrument for demonstrating the efficacy of the full presence of a master therapist. It will inspire every psychotherapist, irrespective of orientation."

-- Rich Hycner, PhD, Author, Between Person and Person: Toward a Dialogical Psychotherapy
"In this video we can see a master psychotherapist working with humanity and elegance tackling one of the most difficult challenges: The patient that steadfastly resists treatment. Polster has much to teach any therapist about the power of the therapeutic relationship."

-- Yaqui Andrés Martínez Robles, PhD, Director, Existential Therapy Studies Circle, Mexico City
"...for therapists who really struggle with those extremely intelligent, cynical, arrogant and challenging male clients this could be a life-saver."

-- Tony Verner, Reviewed in Psychotherapy in Australia
"[This video] presents a fine example of living Gestalt Therapy. Polster is a master, and his video bears repeated watching for the technique and for the heart."

-- Will Handy, MSSW, Reviewed in the Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter 
In Depth
CE Test
To cut to the chase..we think this is possibly the best psychotherapy video ever made (and we've seen quite a few!).  Polster is in an elevated league of true master therapists, and this video captures his artistry.  If you can only buy one video, this is the one to get.

From watching this video, you will learn how to:
  • Engage unmotivated clients.
  • Transform clients' beliefs that change is impossible into authentic experiences of change.
  • Use in-session conflict as a therapeutic tool.
  • Increase your authenticity in sessions.
  • Help clients address different aspects of themselves.

Length of video: 1:21:00

English subtitles available

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-024-4

Individual ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-024-8

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-027-9

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-027-9

Erving Polster, PhD is the Director of The Gestalt Institute of San Diego, and the author of several important books, including Gestalt Therapy Integrated, Every Person's Life is Worth a Novel, and From the Radical Center: The Heart of Gestalt Therapy, as well as dozens of articles and chapters.

See all Erving Polster videos.

CE credits: 1.25

Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss ways to engage unmotivated clients
  • Explain how change is possible by challenging client beliefs
  • Describe how to use in-session conflict as a therapeutic tool

Bibliography available upon request

This course is offered for ASWB ACE credit for social workers. See complete list of CE approvals here

© 1997

Course Reviewed January 2024

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