4 Ways to Help Clients Cultivate a Growth Mindset

A fixed mindset and a growth mindset are two contrasting attitudes or beliefs about intelligence, abilities, and personal qualities.

Psychologist Carol Dweck first introduced the concepts of fixed vs. growth mindsets in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Dweck's work has been highly influential in the fields of psychology, education, and personal growth, shaping our understanding of how mindset can significantly influence success and resilience.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

A fixed mindset is the belief that one's intelligence, talents, and qualities are fixed traits that cannot be significantly changed or developed. People with more of a fixed mindset may resist challenges, fear failure, and avoid situations that might expose their limitations.

They might sound like:

  • "I'm not a creative person."
  • "I'm not smart enough to understand [concept/subject]."
  • "I'm just not good at [activity/skill]."
  • "I'm not cut out for [field/industry]."

On the other hand, a growth mindset is the belief that abilities and qualities can be developed through dedication, effort, and learning.

People with a growth mindset embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, viewing setbacks as temporary obstacles. They believe that they can improve through perseverance and learning from their mistakes.

They might sound like:

  • “It hasn’t worked out yet – but I’m still trying.”
  • "I don’t know how to do this yet, but I'm willing to learn."
  • "I love learning new things.”
  • “Sounds like a good challenge!”

The Challenges of Supporting Someone With a Fixed Mindset

Supporting someone with a fixed mindset can present several challenges due to their rigid beliefs and resistance to change.

Challenging factors that you may notice include:

  • Fear of failure. People with a fixed mindset may avoid taking risks or challenging themselves because they believe failure would confirm their fixed limitations.
  • Lack of resilience. When faced with setbacks or obstacles, individuals with a fixed mindset may be more likely to give up easily. They may interpret setbacks as indications of their inherent shortcomings rather than as temporary roadblocks that can be overcome with effort and perseverance.
  • Limited belief in effort. People with a fixed mindset tend to underestimate the power of effort and hard work in achieving success, leading to a reduced willingness to invest time and energy.
  • Resistance to feedback. People with a fixed mindset may be resistant to receiving feedback or constructive criticism. This resistance can limit their ability to learn and grow from feedback, as they may dismiss it rather than seeing it as an opportunity for improvement.

4 Ways to Help Someone Cultivate a Growth Mindset

So, you've spotted that someone has more of a fixed mindset, and it's hindering their progress. What can you do?

As a coach or therapist, you can play a significant role in helping someone shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

While changing deeply ingrained beliefs and mindsets can take time and effort, here are four strategies you can employ to help facilitate this shift.

1. Build Awareness

Start by helping the client recognize and understand the concept of fixed and growth mindsets.

Explain the benefits of a growth mindset, such as increased motivation, resilience, and personal growth.

Introduce the topic of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity demonstrates that the brain is not fixed – it’s highly adaptable. Our brain can modify its structure and function in response to learning, experiences, and environmental influences.

Share with them helpful resources such as videos, articles and books.

Example Questions

  • "Let's explore the idea that our abilities and qualities can actually grow over time. I wonder what your initial thoughts are on that?"
  • "Can you think of any instances where you felt limited by the belief that your abilities are fixed?"
  • “Are there any specific challenges where adopting a growth mindset could be particularly beneficial? How might it change your approach in these situations?”

2. Challenge Limiting Beliefs

Explore the client's beliefs about their abilities, intelligence, and potential.

Encourage them to reflect on the origins of these beliefs and consider alternative viewpoints. Help them see that their beliefs may be holding them back from reaching their full potential.

Example Questions

  • “What are some beliefs you hold about your skills and abilities in this area?”
  • “What would it take for you to shift your beliefs about your skills and abilities? What kind of evidence or experiences might help you with this?”
  • “What would it look like if you held a different belief about your skills and abilities? How might that impact your behaviour and personal growth?”

3. Reframe Failures and Setbacks

Help the client reframe failures and setbacks as learning opportunities.

Emphasize that setbacks are not indicative of their fixed limitations but rather a natural part of the learning process. Encourage them to view challenges as stepping stones toward growth and improvement.

Example Questions

  • “How do you currently view failures and setbacks? What kind of emotions or thoughts come up during these experiences?”
  • “Can you think of a time when you faced a setback but eventually learned something valuable from it?”
  • "Can you think of examples where effort and perseverance led to significant growth or achievement?"

4. Use Growth-Oriented Language

Pay attention to the language the client uses when talking about themselves, their abilities, and their goals.

Encourage them to use language that reflects a growth mindset, such as focusing on effort, progress, and learning, rather than fixed outcomes or comparisons with others.

Example Questions

  • “What have you learned from the challenges or setbacks you've faced?”
  • "What steps can you take to stretch beyond your comfort zone and embrace new challenges?"
  • “What actions can you take to incorporate regular reflection into your routine?”


A fixed mindset assumes that abilities are fixed and unchangeable, leading to a desire to prove oneself and avoid failure.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, embraces the belief that abilities can be developed, leading to a desire for continuous learning, resilience in the face of challenges, and a willingness to put in effort to achieve personal growth and success.

Supporting someone with a fixed mindset can present several challenges due to their rigid beliefs and resistance to change.

You can play a significant role in helping someone cultivate more of a growth mindset. Four strategies you can use are:

  1. Help your client understand the differences between fixed and growth mindsets
  2. Challenge your client’s limiting beliefs
  3. Support them to reframe setbacks and failures as growth opportunities
  4. Use growth-oriented language that focuses on effort, progress, and learning

Remember that helping someone shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is a gradual process – try your best to be patient and understanding. It’s important to consistently reinforce the principles of growth mindset. You’ve got this!

Want practical tools to help clients with their mindset? Check out The Professional's Mental Wellbeing Toolkit today!


About Rebecca

Rebecca is the founder of The Wellness Society and author of two fluff-free books, The Framework and Understanding and Healing Trauma.

She's passionate about creating concise and compassionate mental health and wellbeing tools that address the root causes of distress.

Read more about her views on our About page.