Today's Big Stories

Why family interventions aren't ideal

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

Cave 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 Cave, clinical psychologist

According to Cave, 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.

Cave 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.

Cave 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.

Cave 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 Cave advises is a non-blame culture.

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

Listen to the full conversation from The Redi Tlhabi Show (with Eusebius McKaiser):


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