Why family interventions aren’t ideal

by | Oct 17, 2016

Listen to the full interview.


Clinical psychologist Jeanie Cavé says family interventions often fail because the relative in question tends to feel ambushed by the situation.

Cavé explains that interventions can elicit defensiveness, isolation and even sometimes anxiety in the individual, leaving them feeling victimised.

Inadvertently the very intention of stopping the problematic behaviour might foster it. So the solution becomes the problem.

— Jeanie Cavé, clinical psychologist

According to Cavé, interventions can evoke a sense of shame, which is often the driving force behind a person’s problematic behaviour in the first place.

The confrontational nature of interventions could leave a loved one feeling blindsided and criticised.

Cavé distinguished between the empathy and judgement, emphasising the importance of the former.

Although a family’s intentions may be sincere, poor execution often adds to the problem.

Another issue is that interventions are an unexpected attempt to change someone’s behaviour or attitude, despite the fact that they themselves have not acknowledged it as an issue.

Cavé maintains that family’s must channel their efforts and energies toward the most effective approaches.

She adds that it is important to address the family’s relationship with the person, and not with the problem.

Cavé suggests that family therapy and mediation is very effective way to focus on and facilitate the communication process.

She encourages family’s to have unconditional positive regard toward’s their loved ones, which Cavé advises is a non-blame culture.

Listeners called in to share their challenging family experiences and to ask for advice.


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