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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Switching Targets


After having received firearms training from the Departments of Defense, State, and Energy, I once achieved a proficient level of marksmanship. This included various forms of target acquisition and engagement to where I even tried my hand at training for competitive shooting.


Although my days of placing well-aimed rounds downrange are mostly over, I retain knowledge of how to proficiently identify and address varying targets which require attention. Now, as I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I incorporate knowledge of marksmanship into my psychotherapeutic practice.


For instance, the paper targets I once engaged when on a small arms firing range represented replicas of reality. I trained to stop threats in an environment as relatively free from harm as possible, given the circumstances.


However, there is no guarantee for safety in life—whether on or off of a shooting range. Now, I address identified targets with which clients bring to session. These problem areas aren’t unlike the continually shifting targets from live fire exercises.


Equally, there is no promise of protection from perceived harm when working with client targets. As an example, if clients expect to get better and not merely feel better through practice of REBT, they will likely endure some level of discomfort, frustration, or disappointment through the process.


While I don’t identify the psychotherapeutic process as particularly harmful, some people perceive harm as anything that serves as a mere inconvenience, annoyance, or which is un-pleasurable. Consequently, I don’t guarantee a “safe space” for my clinical practice.


Even when engaging targets through the course of my governmental training, it wasn’t uncommon for a hot piece of brass to fly down one’s shirt, a shard of metal fractured from a steel target to fly towards a shooter, or for a ricocheting round to impact people on the firing line.


When clients conduct target (problem) engagement through use of negotiated homework, they may experience any scenario that people face throughout the course of a typical day. Natural disasters sometimes occur, love interests occasionally cheat, and motorists on the road may attempt to provoke fights.


With each target presented by the client, I assist with focusing on the issue that is most significant. This isn’t unlike my special weapons and tactics training in relation to multiple targets which are staggered, as I needed to choose which to engage first, second, and so on.


According to The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion, page 69, REBT practitioners can assist clients with engagement of targets when in-session while switching to other target problems once clients are able to effectively cope with their issues. Sometimes, this can be a dynamically evolving process.


For instance, if a client presents with a desire to work through a matter during which the person snapped at a neighbor, we may begin engaging the target. As we clear the obstacle and search and assess for residual issues, two more targets may appear.


The neighbor issue reminds the client of something that occurred with a romantic partner last week. That issue may also be linked to a relationship involving the client and a parental figure from youth.


Use of REBT techniques is helpful in this regard, because they serve much in the same way as the fundamentals of marksmanship once served me. Stance, grip, slight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, following through, and other techniques are how I engaged all manner of targets when shooting.


Likewise, use of the ABC model and unconditional acceptance may be practiced for each target with which a client presents in our sessions. Once a client can effectively engage or cope with a problem, we hit the next one, one after that, and so on.


Although my days at the shooting range are mostly behind me, I currently help people to stop the threat of their irrational beliefs when engaging target problems. Strictly regarding the analogy of target engagement represented herein, I may be able to help you neutralize the problems about which you currently self-disturb.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




Dryden, W. and Neenan, M. (2003). The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion. Albert Ellis Institute. ISBN 0-917476-26-3. Library of Congress Control Number: 20031044378

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

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