Using the Consistency Theory Micro-Process Analysis (CMP), the relation between two general change mechanisms, problem activation and resource activation, was studied with the focus on (1) patient behaviour and (2) therapist intervention. The unit of analysis was one minute. The results show that problem and resource activation play different roles in the process of change: problem activation alone did not reliably lead to therapeutic progress; only when combined with thorough resource activation could it unfold its therapeutic potential. Successful therapists chose different degrees of and different timing in applying the two change mechanisms than unsuccessful ones. The results indicate that clearer conceptualizations and specific therapist training are necessary to make better use of resource activation. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.