From moment to moment, we are continuously deciding how best to position ourselves in relation to our patients and the maladaptive defenses to which they cling – once necessary for them to survive but now interfering with their ability to thrive. On the one hand, we have respect for our patients and for the choices, no matter how unhealthy, that they find themselves continuously making; on the other hand, we have a vision of who we think they could be were they but able/willing to make healthier choices for themselves. Indeed, we are always struggling to find an optimal balance within ourselves between accepting the reality of who our patients are and wanting them to change. Whether we are working within the interpretive framework of classical psychoanalytic theory, the corrective-provision framework of self psychology, or the intersubjective framework of contemporary relational theory, we are therefore ever busy deciding – whether consciously or unconsciously – if we should “be with our patients where they are” (Akhtar’s homeostatic attunement) or “direct their attention to elsewhere” (Akhtar’s disruptive attunement) – a critically important balance that is needed if the analytic endeavor is to be advanced. To demonstrate the translation of these theoretical constructs into clinical practice, I will be proposing a number of broadly applicable “template” interventions that juxtapose both the patient’s “defensive need” to maintain “same old same old” and the patient’s “adaptive capacity” to allow for “something new, different, and better.” Clinical vignettes will be offered that demonstrate judicious and ongoing use of these “optimally stressful” interventions that alternately support and challenge the defense, thereby galvanizing advancement of the patient, over time, from psychological rigidity to psychological flexibility. 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 patients that there will be both impetus and opportunity for them, ultimately, to transform rigid defense into more flexible adaptation. The strategic formulation of interpretations specifically designed to generate this optimal stress is indeed both an art and a science.