Befriending Our Defenses: Helping Clients Access the Gift Within the Defense

General Information

The Befriending Our Defenses action-oriented method recognizes four common defenses that result in overly reactive and ineffective communication styles and their more productive counterparts. Befriending Our Defenses encompasses recognition and acceptance that defensive states are natural alarm systems that can increase self and other awareness and the use of compassion-building strategies that help transform old default patterns of reactivity into intentional and effective communication. This method provides a fun, safe and non-threatening format in which participants learn to embody understanding and change. 

Educational Goals

The Befriending Our Defenses process will teach participants to:

  • increase self and other awareness of defenses and defensive communication styles

  • recognize and respond appropriately to internal defenses

  • find respectful and effective ways to communicate needs

  • to manage counter-transference in real time

  • to assist individual, couples, and group clients in managing defenses and communicating needs more effectively.

Measurable Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to identify four major defenses and their effective communication counterparts (gifts).

  • Participants will learn how to apply the Befriending Our Defenses model and technique with individual, couples, and group clients.

  • Participants will learn action-oriented techniques that create a safe and cohesive environment for working with clients exploring their own defenses.


1) Introduction

(a) Explanation and overview of Action Methods

1. Psychodrama and Sociodrama origins and theory

(b) Group activity utilizing action methods for warm up

1. Locograms and Spectrograms

2. One-minute Roles

3. Review of methods and importance of warm up

2) Befriending Our Defenses (BOD) Method

(a) Explanation and overview of BOD concepts and terms

1. Review handouts

2. Facilitator(s) enact examples of the four defenses

(b) Explanation of somatic experience and felt sense strategies for identifying defensive states

(c) Explanation and demonstration of Mindful Compassion


  (d) Dyad work  

  (e) Group BOD grid work

3) Group process of experience using BOD method

4) Discussion of ethical and appropriate uses of BOD and action methods

(a) in therapeutic work with individuals, couples, and groups

(b) in personal work addressing self-awareness and countertransference issues

(c) uses in other settings

5)  Questions and Answers