18 Skills to Overcome Defenses

A skill-building audio course


Ever feel like you’re working too hard with a client and getting nowhere? You don’t need to let your client’s defenses block progress.

For the first time ever, we’re making this collection of 18 skill-building psychotherapy audio studies public. Previously available only via multi-year training programs, this audio course teaches you how to quickly identify and address defenses that can prevent a therapeutic alliance from forming.

How It Works

In this practice-oriented course, you are the therapist asking me scripted questions, and I am your ‘patient’, responding with defenses. You will intervene. Then I will give you a recommended answer and offer some teaching and supervision along the way, reinforcing the intervention technique and theoretical framework.

As we explore numerous examples of each defense, you’ll have ample practice time to more efficiently recognize defenses and intervene immediately. You’ll rapidly improve your assessment and intervention skills and learn to handle problems easily that would have stumped you in the past.

Defenses You’ll Learn How to Navigate

Rejecting collaborative problem-solving

  • Non-problems
  • Diversification
  • Vagueness
  • Rationalization
  • Intellectualization
  • Projection of awareness of a problem onto others
  • Projection of awareness of a problem onto the therapist


  • Identifying the pathways of anxiety discharge
  • Offering cognitive summaries to regulate anxiety
  • Helping patients see and let go of defenses that prevent anxiety regulation
  • Blocking these defenses and inviting anxiety regulation
  • Regulating anxiety that is over the threshold for anxiety tolerance

Resisting the therapeutic task

  • Deactivating the projection of will onto others
  • Deactivating the projection of will onto the therapist
  • Deactivating projection and splitting

Resisting specificity

  • Generalization
  • Projection
  • Vagueness
  • Diversification
  • Denial


  • Identify and address defenses immediately and effectively
  • Learn from 18+ studies
  • Gain proficiency at establishing a therapeutic alliance
  • Get moment-by-moment analysis and coaching
  • Practice at home or on your commute
  • Thousands of hours of experience distilled
  • Learn eighteen techniques so well they are automatic


Cost: $97
Format: 18 mp3 files plus a skill-building handbook (downloaded as one zip file)

And once you are finished with this series, please check out Part Two, with new skills

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22 thoughts on “18 Skills to Overcome Defenses

  1. Anthony Theuninck

    Jon Frederickson has created a superb set of audio training programmes. I have both read ISTDP literature and am in the Core Training in London UK. Yet these recordings have added a dimension to my skill building that I have not been able to achieve through my other learning methods. To me the secret lies in the succinct introduction of the skills and the repeat exercises. Jon guides the listener in an interactive way through various therapeutic scenarios. Each module is clearly introduced and focused on a single skill, with various examples given on each technique. Jon then takes you through various practice runs to help you think through and internalise the skill. He builds your confidence gradually to deal with complexity so that you never feel overwhelmed.

    I noticed the effects in my clinical practice immediately. Jon’s clear instructions are soundbite long and easy to remember, and because of the practice runs with the tapes, I found myself able to immediately incorporate the skills within my established practice. Importantly, the recordings highlight the core ISTDP skills so succinctly that it has given me a renewed appreciation of how important it is not to rush the basics (such as clarifying the problem and the client’s will/motivation). I would recommend these recordings to anyone who is interested in learning the ISTDP method.

    Thank you for making this available Jon. These skill-building guides have proved an essential aid to my learning the ISTDP method through your clear and focused introduction to the therapeutic skill set. I look forward to future releases.

  2. Allan E. Larsen

    The Skill-building audio course is a great learning tool for ISTDP practitioners at all levels. The exercices are very well structured, the learning objectives, and how to get there, are crystal clear, and Jon Frederickson is, as always, a very inspiring teacher. I can highly recommend the skill-building audio course.

    Thanks again, Jon!

    Allan E. Larsen
    Clinical psychologist
    President, Danish Society for ISTDP

  3. Deborah Cole, Psy.D.

    I want to thank Jon Frederickson, my trainer, for making this audio course available. Even though I have been studying ISTDP literature and in a core study group for three years, this audio course still proved to be a wonderful learning experience. It reviewed how to handle defenses that are blocks patients frequently (and unconsciously) erect. Jon acts in the course as the patient in role-plays and then waits as the listener gives a response. Then Jon gives a response that would probably be effective. The repetition and drilling helped my competence in ISTDP.

  4. Jeremy Bartz

    I’m so glad that I purchased these skill building audio recordings. For several years I have been seeking guidance as to how to work around patients’ defenses to help them tap into their emotions. The books that I have read and the psychologists with whom I have consulted have failed to address the techniques that Jon addresses in these recordings. They are kind of basic concepts but they had never occurred to me and they are really important. For example, you ask a patient how her father’s behavior made her feel and she responds “It made me feel disappointed.” That’s actually not a feeling, that’s what happened to her, her father disappointed her. So you can’t just take that as the answer to how that made her feel. You’ve got to dig deeper and he teaches you how.

    I also like that these are in an audio format so you can put them on your iPod. The other day I listened to 3 hours of them while I was painting my office and it made the time go much faster and I learned a lot. I think I will end up listening to them over and over again to solidify the concepts. Looking forward to the release of the next set of recordings!

  5. nicole lediard

    Dear Jon, love so much the first set, can’t wait to have the next series of skill building exercises. When will they come out?

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    Hi, Well put together write-up. There’s an situation with your site throughout traveler, may test this specific? Web browser nonetheless is the current market primary and a great section of others will leave out of the wonderful composing just for this challenge.

  7. Brad

    Hello. I see that some of these comments are old, so I thought I would ask if you have begun offering Continuing Education credit? Thank you!


  8. Rita Adriana Gargiulo

    I just purchased the course. Looking forward to increasing my skills and confidence. Thanks, kind regards
    R. Adriana Gargiulo

  9. Constance Ann Moore, M.Ed., LPC

    Hello, What equipment do I need to have to watch the series? Thanks, Constance Moore

  10. Paresh Kasabwala

    I’m not sure if i completely understanding how the skill building audio course works. Will we being doing a role-play via telephone? Please clarify. Thank you.

    1. istdpadmin Post author

      You will receive an audio file on your computer. When you click on it, you will hear my voice and you will learn from me like you would learn a language on a language tape or recording.

  11. Joseph Jeral

    Hi Jon,
    I just purchased the first skill-building audio course. I’d like to practice it with a colleague, where we could read the scripts to each other. Is the script available? If so I’m not seeing a way t download it.
    Thanks Much,

  12. Sama Hesham

    I’m overwhelmed by the book and feel lost at the same time of that fatty meal; not yet get the audio which i’m looking at but waiting for having money to buy them


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