As you sit with your clients, do you sometimes find yourself at a loss for words? From moment to moment, we are continuously making choices about how best to position ourselves in relation to our clients. Whether working within (1) the interpretive perspective of classical psychoanalytic theory, (2) the corrective-provision perspective of self psychology, or (3) the intersubjective perspective of contemporary relational theory, we are always busy deciding when we should highlight the healthy forces within our clients that are pressing “yes” and when we should target the unhealthy (resistive) counterforces that are defending “no.” With our finger always on the pulse of the level of the client’s anxiety, we are indeed ever focused, be it consciously or unconsciously, on whether we think the client will be able to tolerate further (anxiety-provoking) challenge or will require additional (anxiety-assuaging) support – a critically important balance that is needed if the therapeutic endeavor is to be advanced. To illustrate the translation of these theoretical constructs into clinical practice, I will be proposing a number of broadly applicable “template” interventions that juxtapose both the client’s “defensive need” to maintain “same old, same old” and the client’s “adaptive capacity” to embrace “something new, different, and better.” Clinical vignettes will be offered demonstrating judicious and ongoing use of these “optimally stressful” interventions that alternately support and then challenge the defense, thereby galvanizing advancement of the client, over time, from psychological rigidity (defense) to psychological flexibility (adaptation). If indeed the therapeutic goal is deep and sustained psychodynamic change, then it behooves all of us to become comfortable with the concept of provoking – with our interventions – enough incentivizing anxiety and destabilizing stress within our clients that there will be both impetus and opportunity for them, ultimately, to transform rigid defense into more flexible adaptation. The strategic formulation of these interpretations specifically designed to generate this optimal stress is indeed both an art and a science.