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What types of patients do you have the most difficulty treating?

Answer examples and advice for how to answer this interview question for an Addiction Counselor interview

How to Answer

Behavioral issues and dual diagnosis, like a bipolar alcoholic, can make treatment extremely difficult. What can make treatment even more difficult are those who don't cooperate or follow through with the plan of care. Tell the interviewer about a particular situation or patient. Be sure to respect patient confidentiality when sharing any examples.

What types of patients do you have the most difficulty treating?
Answer example

"When a patient doesn't take responsibility to start making changes that are constructive in their life, I feel the difficulty. I do my best to empower them, because ultimately they are the ones who can change their own lives. If they choose not to do the work, treatment is a whole lot harder."

Entry Level

"I believe that, once I am working as an addiction counselor, I will have difficulty treating patients that aren't ready to help themselves. As a counselor, you so badly want to see everyone make their own personal breakthroughs but I realize this may not be realistic. That will be challenging, for sure."


"I have come across some difficult patients in my career as a counselor. I would say the most challenging patients are those who do not follow their treatment plan yet tell me that they are. It's hard to work around dishonesty so I gently remind these patients that the only person they are hurting is themselves."

View user-submitted Answers

What types of patients do you have the most difficulty treating?
Patients who have been in treatment several times without making any positive changes, they die as a result of their substance abuse problem.
I have the most difficulty treating patients that either knows it all, or in denial about having an addiction.
Patients who are not seeking treatment for themselves but for some other factor.
None really. I think dual diagnosis can be particularly challenging as can couples who abuse but I am happy to work with any type of client.
I find that patients who do not want to participate in their treatment, a difficult situation sometimes.
DUI clients. They don't get the incurred costs and the lives that they endanger.
Young adult male patients.
Manipulative patients who harass other patients in the treatment centre.
I believe the patients whom I have the most difficulty treating is those with concurrent disorders.
Clients who don't want to be there and who are denial.
Aggressive and disrespectful patients.
People who don't actively engage in the process.
A client that is working the program without fully embracing it by working the steps with a sponsor although the client is the one that has to learn self awareness to get to self actualization.
I think I would have trouble treating people who perpetrate domestic violence or child abuse, but I would not judge them.
Physically aggressive patients.
I realize that everybody is different and must be approached in different ways. I do at times find it difficult to deal with a client who challenges. I have experienced this with clients, and it is important to redirect the client that they are the focus of the session, not I.
The most difficult patients I've treated were sexual offenders.
Patient who are not serious about treatment.
One of my strongest traits. Never had issues. Enjoy working with others team player.
This is difficult to answer as I have not provided treatment yet. As an adaptive horsemanship instructor, I have found participants that physically are adults, yet cognitively are young youth difficult to understand and relate.
Persons who are not motivated to chance and do not understand how their behaviors are effecting them negatively.
I find those who bring negative energy to the facility is difficult as it does affect everyone trying to reestablish thier lives.
The ones that think they already have all the answers.
Really young clients who are having fun experimenting with drug - clients in the pre-contemplation stage.
I haven't treated anyone yet but I think I would have difficulty treating child abusers.
I have not treated anyone yet, but I feel as though I have no problem working with any person. While in school, I have done many exercises identifying my biases and I have learned to identify them in order to put them aside and work with any person that needs my assistance.
Someone who does not want treatment.
The ones that do not want to accept the help.
A client who has sexually abused a child.
I find it difficult when I have little to work with, little response or engagement. In these situations I will work exclusively at building rapport. I try to sit with the discomfort and try to recognize that this is perhaps a manifestation of the discomfort this person lives with daily.
Clients who undermine their own treatment process by being disruptive towards other clients or rude to staff. This is usually the case with clients who are not committed to treatment and are doing it to please someone else, those are usually the most difficult to work with. I try to support those clients and make their stay comfortable whether they decide to stay further or not.
The most difficult patients are the ones who refuse to engage in conversation and refuse to allow you to get through their barriers but you just have to be patient with them and they will eventually grow to trust you.
Those who do not want help. It is hard to get them to open up to you when they are caught in denial.
Resistant clients, silent type.
Patients that are physically aggressive.
There are clt who do not want to be in tx . I instead work towards them re focusing their attention to other aspects of their life they are willing to change and why are the in tx.
Resistant, people in denial.
The ones that do not talk a whole lot. It makes it difficult to truly understand them if they do not give a lot to work with.

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