Surfs Up!

Welcome to ‘The New Wave for Paradox Psychology’.

Another psychology website? Aren’t there enough theories?! What makes this so different? 

This site is dedicated to the art and science of influencing change in the treatment-resistant client; the client who has ‘no desire, intent, or motivation’  to change his/her behavior.  

These clients are often mandated for treatment by the court system, job, school, or frustrated parents. Such clients tend to downplay the seriousness of their issues and are often in denial of the negative impact their behavior has on others.

While those making the referral are hopeful the client will recognize the importance of changing his attitude and behavior, the client himself may feel no need to do so.  

Unfortunately ‘conventional wisdom’ has insisted that unless the client is “willing to cooperate and participate” then there is little the clinician can do to advance treatment. This view is simply wrong! Instead of recognizing that one’s treatment methods were inadequate, this assumption has allowed clinicians to absolve themselves (“I’ve done everything I could …”) and then blame the client for his lack of progress.

Unbiased research indicates that behavioral, cognitive, and psychodynamic interventions are successful when working with the motivated client, however these methods have little success with those who avoid and resist treatment.  Clinicians who base their practice mainly on these methods will therefore likely feel frustrated when such clients do not respond to their methods.    

In terms of working with treatment resistance research indicates that paradoxical interventions have the highest rate of success. This is due to the key advantage that the method does not depend on the client’s “good will, cooperation, and participation” in order to be successful.

The primary goal here is to introduce the theory of paradox psychology and paradoxical techniques. Through paradox theory it becomes possible to explore how paradoxical interventions and techniques work. The focus of these ideas are geared toward educating mental health providers and others interested in the dynamics of addressing treatment resistance.  


- So you are probably asking: “If paradox is so great, why haven’t we heard more about it?!”

Historically the method has been viewed as a clinical mystery. While known to be effective, clinicians had no understanding of the underlying mechanism behind the approach. Without this understanding, clinicians were apprehensive about administering methods that were clearly counter-intuitive and lacked face validity. Often clinicians biggest fear was that an intervention will ’backfire’. 

Until now, there was no concise theory to support the method. While previously, paradoxical interventions were viewed simply as a ‘bag-o-tricks’ techniques, this work provides an  underlying theory that supports the “method behind the madness.” It is hoped that as clinicians gain clarity and understanding of its mechanism  they will feel more confident in applying this effective and exciting approach.  


Webster’s Dictionary: Paradox: A proposition that is seemingly self-contradictory or absurd;  An argument which through a valid process of deduction arrives at a self-contradictory conclusion.

Paradox psychology focuses on a simple yet obvious truth: The essence of human existence is a paradox!  Through a valid process of deduction, it is evident that we are self-contradictory beings.

…How so? -We live in a finite body, but we think unlimited thoughts; -We walk on dry land, but our ‘head is in the clouds’; -Our DNA is programmed to act upon animal instinct, yet we insist on exerting ‘free-will.’ 

And maybe the biggest paradox, as rockstar, Sting, best puts it: We are spirits living in the material world!             EPK 4-1-12