Heron’s Six Categories of Intervention

Understanding How to Help People More Effectively

© Veer
Tom Wang

How you offer a helping hand can be crucial.

At work, in whatever role or industry, most people deal daily with others who need their help, support, advice or expertise. Precisely how they deliver that "help" determines its success and also has an impact on the relationship they build with the person they are helping.

John Heron's framework provides a model for analyzing how you deliver help. His model identifies six primary categories or styles of helping intervention.

Based on studies in counseling, his categories became widely used to study and train health and education professionals. However, more recently, business professionals – managers, supervisors, coaches, consultants, sales people – have used the model to learn and improve how they interact when helping their employees, team members, clients, and customers.

This article helps you understand Heron's model, so that you can use it to improve your business and management communication skills and so improve the outcome of the help you offer.

Understanding the Model

Heron's model has two basic categories or styles – "authoritative" and "facilitative." Those two categories further break down into a total of six categories to describe how people intervene when helping.

Tip:

There are some technical words used to describe the categories. Don't be put off by them – they are necessary to describe this model and we define them fully below.

If a helping intervention is "authoritative," it means that the person "helping" (often a manager or supervisor) is giving information, challenging the other person, or suggesting what the other person should do.

If a helping intervention is "facilitative," it means that the person "helping" is drawing out ideas, solutions, self-confidence, and so on, from the other person, helping him or her to reach his or her own solutions or decisions....

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