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Looking at obstacles

Looking at obstacles

We have looked at various sorts of barriers before, in the sections on breaking chains and self-sabotage for example, but here we are going to look specifically at barriers to achieving goals.

Lets look at the following formula:

Success = goal + movement + resources – obstacles

If we use a football analogy, success (scoring), requires a goal (literally), movement of the player, resources (ie a ball) and an absence of obstacles (ie players of the other team) OR getting round the obstacles.

This formula shows the factors that are needed in order to be successful. The obstacles can be internal or external. Continuing the above analogy, if the player has a fear of success, or a sore big toe, these can also prevent him scoring.

A part of the monitoring process therefore is to ascertain what obstacles there are for my clients, and find ways to deal with these obstacles if possible. Often simply an awareness that an obstacle is there can shrink it. They often take on unrealistic proportions until analysed.


Here are some examples:

  • A client wants promotion, but doesn’t get on with his boss, therefore can’t get a reference, etc etc. We find a way AROUND this obstacle by getting a reference from the HR department instead.
  • A client wants to lose weight but can’t stop eating chocolate. We REMOVE the obstacle by getting their partner to do the shopping so that there is no chocolate available (yes we know this is simplistic!)
  • A client wants to enrol on a degree course but is terrified of rejection. We get THROUGH this obstacle by €œfeeling the fear and doing it anyway€
  • A client wants to change career from being a lawyer to running a cattery but knows that her mother will not approve. We SHRINK this obstacle by working with the client on her adult status in relation to her mother.
  • A client wants to improve their income but has chosen not to go out work so that he is at home when the children come home from school or are ill. We UTILISE this obstacle by realising that this gives him 6 and a half hours of peace each day to plan and run an Internet accounting business.

Set backs

Another primary role of the therapist is to be a support in times of set backs. I envisage myself as being ready to catch my clients when they fall.

Because it is inevitable that if my clients are going for things, then sometimes things will go wrong. I will

  • Be positive
  • Encourage
  • Find ways to reframe
  • Look for alternatives
  • Listen to their disappointment/despair/anger without joining in


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