Superimposing an acute physical injury on top of a chronic one is sometimes exactly what the body needs in order to heal. But just as with the body, where a condition might not heal until it is made acute, so too with the mind. The therapeutic provision of “optimal stress” – against the backdrop of empathic attunement and authentic engagement – can be the magic ingredient needed to overcome the inherent resistance to change so frequently encountered in patients with longstanding emotional injuries. Too much challenge (traumatic stress) will overwhelm. Too little challenge (minimal stress) will reinforce the dysfunctional status quo. But just the right combination of challenge and support (optimal stress) will galvanize the patient to action and provoke healing. With our finger ever on the pulse of the patient’s level of anxiety and capacity to tolerate further challenge, we can formulate “incentivizing statements” strategically designed “to precipitate disruption in order to trigger repair.” Ongoing use of these optimally stressful interventions will induce healing cycles of defensive destabilization followed by adaptive restabilization at ever-higher levels of integration, dynamic balance, and functional capacity. Behind this “no pain, no gain” approach is a firm belief in the underlying resilience patients will inevitably discover within themselves once forced to tap into their inborn ability to self-correct in the face of environmental challenge – an innate capacity that will enable them to advance, over time, from less-evolved defensive reaction to more-evolved adaptive response.