Eliot P Kaplan, PhD, LCSW contends that current theories in psychology do not address the core of what makes human psychology different.  While the field has spent years analyzing superficial aspects of behavioral, cognitive, and emotional functioning, Dr. Kaplan contends that these areas do not address the unique quality of the human experience.


To comprehend the personality we must address the central paradox of human existence - the expression of  ‘free-will’. 

He claims that by developing an understanding of free-will, it becomes possible to unravel the mystery regarding the mechanism behind paradoxical interventions. 



Dr. Kaplan explains that man’s paradoxical nature and affinity for free-will places him in a totally separate category compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. Although both man and animal have the ability to experience behavior, cognitions, and emotions, man is not confined by these functions. As human beings our free-will status allows us to transcend these aspects in a manner that overrides our instinctual DNA programming.

As a result, man’s actions and behaviors are not always linear and logical. Free-will gives man the choice to contradict his own self interest!  Free-will results in the internal struggle that forces one to grapple between selfish desires and socially acceptable behavior. When free-will is used to transcend impulsive behavior then man is able to raise his sense of self-esteem and take pride in his personal accomplishments and choices.

Ultimately it is the free-will to transcend one’s instinctual self that makes each human being a living paradox.



Dr. Kaplan specifically addresses the nuances of working with the treatment-resistant client.

He notes that current theories rely on the client’s willingness to cooperate and participate in treatment. However there is no current framework to work with those who avoid, resist, or refuse treatment. 


He explains that without a clear understanding of free-will, clinicians tend to misinterpret disruptive behavior. This occurs because clinicians assume that clients are making an active choice to be disruptive, when in actuality their behavior is simply habitual. As a result of this assumption, clinicians often engage in power struggles to redirect client behavior, and unwittingly ‘buy into’ the client’s desire to maintain their ‘familiar and comfortable’ orbits of behavior. status-quo pattern to resist authority and change.


Such power struggles however are ‘only a smoke screen’ that allows clients to mistakenly convince themselves that their behavior is an expression of free-will, when in truth it is nothing more than a predictable response.


In working with treatment-resistance, Dr. Kaplan reveals to the client the objective nature of his repetitive and predictable behavior. In so doing, he bypasses the client’s expectation of a power struggle. By helping the client realize that he is ‘stuck’ in repetitive responses, he activates the client’s intrinsic desire to regain his free-will expression. 

This awareness generates the client to gain a new perspective on his habitual behavior. The process allows him to experience an “existential reorganization” that shifts his view of himself and others. As a result the client often takes ‘matters into his own hands’ in an effort to prove to himself and others that his free-will potential has not been compromised. 

The intent of treatment is therefore to  motivate an internal desire for change. This is the advantage of paradoxical interventions as it motivates change ‘from the inside out.’  In this manner interventions are a catalyst for long-term and lasting change, since the client is able to take full responsibility for asserting his free-will potential.

When this existential shift occurs, change happens effortlessly and without the struggle normally associated with therapy. This type of change is the result of a natural ‘release of tension.’ Such a release allows rigid behavior to flow to a more stable and relaxed position. The exciting aspect is that change occurs in an ‘organic’ and spontaneous manner.

While current theories of human behavior rely on linear ‘step-by-step’ logic, Dr. Kaplan offers a non-linear model based on an ‘orbits-gravity’ to explain the paradox of change. As it turns out, the validity of the orbits-gravity paradigm is a proven model that is universally accepted as the basis for all modern scientific study. 

While this paradigm is new to exploring psychological phenomena, this work suggests that a basic understanding of orbits-gravity systems brings depth to conceptualizing a wide range of behavior and treatment

Dr. Kaplan contends that Freud came “dangerously close” to stumbling on an orbits-gravity model.  Had he realized that his observation of “repetition compulsive behavior” paralleled the idea of repetitive “rigid orbits of behavior”, this would have provided the central ‘scientific anchor’ upon which to develop and expand psychoanalytic theory. 


Dr. Kaplan is the founder and director of ‘The Paradox Psychology Institute’. He holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Temple University, PA; and an MSW from Rutgers University, NJ. He also has post graduate training in Gestalt Therapy.

He claims that the orbits-gravity model provides the ‘missing link’ to solve the mystery regarding the obvious overlap of the major theoretical orientations.  As such the model allows us to develop a unified theory that both encompasses and gives equal weight to behavioral, cognitive, and psycho-dynamic approaches.  The model identifies the common ‘active ingredient’ that allows us to view these orientations as a single extension of each other. The practical result is that it clarifies and organizes interventions in a way that helps maximize treatment effectiveness.

In particular, this model is useful in understanding the counter-intuitive nature of paradoxical interventions and ‘cracks the code’ in explaining the ‘method behind the madness’.   


Dr. Kaplan has 25+ years experience in the field. He has worked in a variety of mental health settings including inpatient and outpatient psychiatric facilities, and adolescent residential facilities. Utilizing his understanding of a paradoxical model, he is proficient at working with patients and families who seek to challenge or sabotage treatment. 

He has worked with those diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as well as those exhibiting addictive behaviors. For many years he travelled nationally presenting seminars for health-care professionals regarding the theory and practice of working with the ‘oppositional’ and ‘treatment-resistant’ client. 

Dr. Kaplan has authored a chapter in the professional series The Sex Offender - Volume VI (2008) published by Civic Research institute (CRI) titled: Paradoxical Interventions For Treatment Resistant Offenders - Theory and Practice. While many clinicians believe that those who exhibit volatile ‘problem sexual behavior’ (PSB) are “beyond help”, this chapter discusses how the strategic use of the paradoxical approach can resolve underlying ‘attachment trauma’ in a manner that promotes rapid and positive treatment outcome.

Currently Dr. Kaplan sails from New York City. He tells tall tales of adventure when he would ferry the high seas between Manhattan and Staten Island, making him the ‘salty dog’ he is today. In addition, he enjoys plundering antique shops in search of buried treasure.

Dr. Kaplan can be reached at:




www.ParadoxPsychology.com    EPK Revised 2-9-15