Six Category Intervention Analysis: interventions defined

© 2001 John Heron


What I mean by an “intervention” is an identifiable piece of verbal and/or non-verbal behaviour that is part of the practitioner's service to the client. Throughout this manual, my accounts of the different interventions refer mostly to the practitioner's verbal behaviour, occasionally with some reference to manner and timing. The non-verbal accompaniments of verbal behaviour are, of course, critical in determining how the verbal behaviour comes across to the client. But such matters, I believe, are best dealt with in a Six Category Training Workshop. Some important physical - that is, body to body - interventions are covered in the cathartic section.

verbal behaviour

Now you can give an account of verbal behaviour in three different ways:

(a) You can give an example of the actual form of words that is typically used in the intervention: e.g., “What are your feelings about George?”

(b) You can give an ordinary linguistic description of the form of words that is to be used in the intervention: e.g., Ask an open question.

(c) You can define the intervention in terms of its intention, that is, in terms of what its point and purpose is, what the practitioner wants to achieve by it: e.g., The practitioner invites the client to explore and express his attitude to a colleague.


I use all these three types of account in the text, but I use the third one - defining an intervention in terms of its intention - by far the most. And usually, but not always, I leave it to the reader to get a sense of what form of words, and of what particular words, to use. I think this is best. An account of the intention of an intervention takes us to the heart of the matter.

© 2001 John Heron

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