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Paradoxes and Paradoxical Intervention

Paradox is a technique utilized in family therapy to disrupt a family’s preferred style of interaction, coping, or problem-solving. This entry provides a definition of the concept of paradox, discusses the theoretical origins of the concept, explains when the technique is indicated and when it is contraindicated, and discusses why paradox matters. Examples of paradoxical interventions are provided within each section.

The Concept of Paradox

A therapist can expect direct suggestion to be followed only by people who have a certain commitment to change and who are motivated to cooperate with therapy. When this commitment does not exist, it is usually best for the therapist to bring about change in indirect ways. Alfred Adler is credited with being the founder of the paradoxical intervention in the 1920s. ...

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