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I make the issue overt, and meta-communicate with my client around the stagnation of the therapy. Effectively, I express my feelings. This type of statement alone tends to change the dynamic immediately. You are no longer ignoring the issue, but you moved directly toward it. I find that stagnation in therapy matches stagnation in life outside the therapy room.

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So, starting a shift in the room effectively becomes the therapy. Deborah Serani , Psy. D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression , focuses on understanding why her clients are stuck. She views these stalemates as stepping stones on the path toward growth and progress. In the field, this is known as resistance — and the experience becomes a stepping stone that enables us to delve into historical reasons why the client may be blocked, stuck or looping in an emotional holding pattern. I often tell my clients that being stuck allows us to roll up our sleeves and dig deeper to discover great things.

Again, just bringing up the issue in session has tremendous benefits, as Howes noted. The first line of defense against feeling stuck is a strong grasp on theory. Most theories present a way to understand and address the common obstacles that arise all the time.

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Comprehensive theories almost always provide someplace else to go with the client. As a relational psychodynamic therapist, I highly value authenticity, equality, and collaboration in the therapy office.

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Is there a misunderstanding that needs to be addressed? Are both of us here in the room, or are our thoughts elsewhere? Jeffrey Sumber , MA, a therapist, author and professor, also considers how he might be stalling progress and creatively examines the effectiveness of his treatment. When I feel stuck with a client, I rely on C. First and foremost, I ask myself if there is something I am doing to hold the process back … Am I afraid of any emotion in the room?

Am I feeling any underlying resentment toward the client?

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Then I begin to look at the treatment from new angles, asking new questions to myself and to the client. I often ask the client how they feel our process is going and what is working and what might not be moving as smoothly as they would like. Sometimes I will ask the client to switch seats with me and role-play client and therapist from our new vantages. Similarly, Christina G.

Hibbert , Psy. D, a clinical psychologist and expert in postpartum mental health, carefully analyzes how both she and the client might be contributing to the stagnation in session.

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Then, I bring it up to the client. Do you feel it too? I thought we should spend some time today discussing why this might be. The best way to change the channel is by getting active.

Find an activity that will temporarily distract you from the negative tapes playing in your head. Go for a walk, call a friend to talk about a different subject, or tackle a project you've been putting off. But refuse to listen to your brain beat you up. Your thoughts aren't always true. In fact, they're often exaggeratedly negative. It's important to examine the evidence before you believe your thoughts.

If you think, "I'm going to embarrass myself when I give that presentation," pause for a minute. Take out a piece of paper and write down all the evidence that indicates you're going to fail. Then, list all the evidence that you aren't going to fail. Looking at the evidence on both sides can help you look at the situation a little more rationally and less emotionally.

Reminding yourself that your thoughts aren't percent true can give you a boost in confidence. When you recognize that your negative thoughts aren't completely true, try replacing your statements with something more realistic. If you think, "I'll never get a promotion," a good replacement statement might be, "If I work hard and I keep investing in myself, I may get promoted someday. Keep in mind that you don't need to develop unrealistically positive statements. Overconfidence can be almost as damaging as serious self-doubt. But a balanced, realistic outlook is key to becoming mentally stronger.

It's tempting to envision a misstep turning into an utter catastrophe.

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But, often the worst case scenario isn't as bad as we fear. If you predict you're going to get rejected for a job, ask yourself how bad would that actually be? Rejection stings but it's not the end of the world.

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Reminding yourself that you can handle tough times increases your confidence. It will also decrease much of the dread and worrisome thoughts that can stand in your way. It's easier to be compassionate toward other people, rather than yourself.

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While you might call yourself an idiot for making a mistake, it's unlikely you'd say that to a loved one. When you're struggling with tough times or you're doubting your ability to succeed, ask yourself, "What would I say to a friend who had this problem? There's a difference between telling yourself that you're not good enough and reminding yourself that there's room for improvement.