Six Category Intervention Analysis

the 6CIA model

This model for interpersonal skills training was originally developed by John Heron in 1973, initially with and for the medical profession.  It has since been used widely throughout the world and has been found to be effective in a wide range of settings and for a variety of roles.  These are roles in which effectiveness in one-to-one interaction is important and they can be found within both formal professions and in the voluntary sector. Examples include manager, teacher, supervisor, consultant, counsellor, inspector or practitioner.  Settings include health care, business, local government, education, industry, public service.

The model identifies six basic categories of practitioner intentions and ways of relating or intervening with another person.  Each category is refined into many sorts of specific behaviour appropriate to the category.  The six categories are:


Prescriptive (giving direction)

Informative (giving information)

Confronting (challenging supportively)


Cathartic (tension-releasing)

Catalytic (drawing out)

Supportive (encouraging)

six intention classes

These categories are taught as intentions on the part of the practitioner: intentions for the benefit of the client, or recipient of the interventions which are creative responses to what is emerging in the relationship between them about the needs of the client. The model also identifies both general and specific “degenerations” or misguided practice within each category (intentional and unintentional).

the training workshops

John Heron developed a training process over the years, refined it and passed it on to his colleagues. The simplest version was a workshop of 2 days, which allowed an introduction, some discrimination practice, exploration of some categories and some application to participants' circumstances. Longer versions of the workshop allowed more individualisation and a deeper experience of the experiential process, serving as a clear model of excellence in the field. Practice in the training courses and subsequent experience brings out how best to spontaneously choose the category of intervention, the best sort of response for each category and the range of options for expressing appropriate content. Highlighted in the training is the match or dissonance between non-verbal style and intention, issues of timing and verbal content and adapting to client response, intended and unintended. It became a central core element of the future programme of the the HPRP, which expanded it to advanced trainings and a teacher training workshop. As always, these workshops expressed the results of the HPRP research programme, offered the highest standards of facilitation and provided a model of excellence for professionalism in the public and private sector.


John refined the model with experience and feedback from colleagues and other students who had used the model in their professional lives. In my case, it became the primary guide to self-awareness in the moment, and subsequent self-reflection after private meetings with students, classroom teaching, group work and counselling. It lends itself to a stereoscopic view of interpersonal process when combined with other models such as the T.A. model (to scrutinise potential degeneracies) and models of how a tutorial or clinical meeting should unfold. This work is written up in further editions of his book “Helping the Client”. He also recognised its potential to be applied to facilitating groups - whereas each individual intervention can be examined by application of the 6CIA model, the same client issues apply to a group as a whole, lending itself to transform to the “Six Dimensions of Facilitator Style”.

current status

The open workshop programme no longer exists as such and the Six Category training has been subsumed into other closed degree programmes in the University, notably the M.Sc. in Change Agent Skills and Strategies. It is used as a basis of teacher trainee supervision, nurse education and also professional and management development in the private sector. I would be pleased if examples in any sector were drawn to my attention to add to 6CIA links. Email James

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