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Tiebout, H.M. (1962). Intervention in Psychotherapy. Am. J. Psychoanal., 22(1):74-80.

(1962). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 22(1):74-80

Intervention in Psychotherapy

Harry M. Tiebout, M.D.

Over the years, standard practice in psychotherapy has shrunk from intervention. Self-determination and self-expression have been the therapeutic goals. The therapist should help the patient find himself and then free him from his conflicting drives, so that his potentials can develop and mature. The picture is that of a man caught in the coils of his own unresolved needs, struggling vainly to liberate himself from their binding hold upon him. Intervention seemed another coil, another restraining influence, and was thus to be avoided.

Inevitably, a cult of permissiveness appeared. If intervention was crippling to the potentials of the individual, intervention was outlawed and the sky was the limit. The permissive vogue has run its course. It created havoc from which we are still suffering. Clearly, intervention of a sort is indicated. The question is where and how. There seems little doubt that some potentials should be crippled and not allowed full expression. Everything the individual feels or desires is not necessarily fit for publication.

Therapists have been caught on the horns of a dilemma. They have feared to intervene, not only because such practice seemed stultifying, but also because they feared to play God and do the intervening which placed the decisive action in their hands.

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