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Paradoxical Intervention

  1. Varda Shoham,
  2. Michael J. Rohrbaugh

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0634

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Shoham, V. and Rohrbaugh, M. J. 2010. Paradoxical Intervention. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–4.

Author Information

  1. University of Arizona

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Paradoxical interventions are psychotherapeutic tactics that seem to contradict the goals they are designed to achieve. For example, a therapist may prescribe that clients deliberately have an unwanted symptom or restrain them from changing. In the classic definition of a therapeutic double-bind or paradox, “an injunction is so structured that it (1) reinforces the behavior the patient expects to be changed, (2) implies that this reinforcement is the vehicle of change, and (3) thereby creates a paradox because the patient is told to change by remaining unchanged” (Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967, p. 241).