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Posted Nov 27 2010 12:00am

Some counseling approaches use more confrontation than others. What is the function of confrontation and give an example of positive confrontation.


More often than not, a client comes to us because they are having difficulty resolving issues, or incongruities, in their lives.  Positive confrontation is a process whereby a therapist will highlight discrepancies and then feed them back to the client.  Once recognition is achieved, the mutual task is the work though the discrepancy to resolution.

The process is relatively simple… first, we attempt to listen to the client and identify any mixed messages or incongruities between what the client says and what the client actually does.  An example might include a recovering alcoholic who insists that they want to quit drinking, yet persists with the behavior.  Next, we should make an attempt to work the mixed message or incongruity through to resolution.  In the case of the example, we should reassure and reaffirm the recovering individual that they have repeatedly stated that they desire to quit drinking, despite repeated relapses.  Personally, I would focus on the power of “now” and move forward, emphasizing that we can’t change the past.  Finally, we evaluate the effectiveness of our confrontation intervention.  (Ivey, Ivey, & Zalaquett, 2010, p. 243)  This would be done on an ongoing basis as the session proceeds, with modifications to our method being made along the way to maximize benefits for the individual with whom we are working.


Ivey, A. E., Ivey, M. B., & Zalaquett, C. P. (2010). Intentional interviewing & counseling (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.


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