‘Being with’ and ‘making psychological contact’ through Intensive Interaction

Writing my last Blog about the term ‘Being with‘, it reminded me of some of the conclusions drawn in the 2014 paper ‘Clinical Psychologists’ Views of Intensive Interaction as an Intervention in Learning Disability Services’ (Berry, R., Firth, G., Leeming, C. & Sharma, V. (2014) Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 21 (5), 403-410).

In that research, we interviewed a number of Intensive Interaction-minded clinical psychologists to gain an insight into their views on the use of the approach. One of our findings was that: ‘… the [clinical psychologist] participants were using Intensive Interaction to establish psychological contact with people who are difficult to reach … as one participant emphasised: ‘you can’t overstate the importance of communication: without it you can’t interact and without interactions, you can’t have a relationship of any real sort’.’

Also: ‘[The clinical psychologist] participants talked about using Intensive Interaction with people who are difficult to reach and their comments about its benefits can be understood in Person Centred Therapy terms; they described it as a means for establishing psychological contact.

Now apparently Person Centred Therapy (also known as Rogerian Therapy as it originated from the work of the American psychologist Carl Rogers) is an established form of therapy that is designed to promote improved psychological well-being by helping a person develop their self-knowledge and self-awareness. With this kind of Person Centred Therapy, it is the therapist’s primary role to facilitate an environment in which the person themselves can bring about positive change. The therapeutic process aims to both nurture psychological growth, and reduce a person’s emotional distress.

The three ‘core’ conditions or defining principles of Person Centred Therapy are said to be empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard (which to me look a lot like the ‘core’ or basic principles of Intensive Interaction ). 

So just ‘being with’ someone, and doing so with ‘unconditional positive regard’ (as Rogers would say), could justifiably be seen as a humanistic psychological intervention designed to help people who, for a range of reasons, find positive social engagement difficult. By extrapolating that thought, perhaps we can actually claim that Intensive Interaction should be seen as a therapeutic tool that, by developing unconditional positive interaction, can directly foster psychological contact and thus promote emotional well-being.

So perhaps there needs to be more work done [i.e. by psychologists] to directly link conceptualisations of Intensive Interaction to established psychological theory? As was also said in our paper, we need to do this: ‘… [to] create the prospect of an evidence-based therapy for people who are unable to access traditional psychotherapies but may be in great need of experiencing psychological contact and connectedness‘.

(p.s. This Blog is adapted from one I did on 28/12/2017 on my previous Blogger page)

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