This chapter defines and illustrates ways of intervening into those family patterns identified as problematic during the interviewing process. Interventions are considered in terms of process, timing, content, and delivery.
A therapeutic intervention may be broadly defined as any verbal or non-verbal communication from a therapist that has the potential for initiating a change in the family system. Requesting a family to come as a group, convening strategies, circular questions, enactments, sculpting, and other interviewing techniques, all have the potential to be intervention using this definition.
This chapter concentrates on those more formal interventions that a therapist prepares and delivers during or at the end of a session with the express purpose of inducing change.
Interventions may have several aims: a) to test the flexibility of a family system towards change and their attitude to therapy; b) to gather information through the completion (or otherwise) of tasks; c) to emphasize and continue the process, begun in the interview, of disrupting dysfunctional patterns of behaviour, beliefs, and systemic rules so that new, more functional patterns can develop. New patterns may be directly suggested by the therapist or may emerge spontaneously through an indirect intervention by the therapist.