Intensive Interaction: a summary

Intensive Interaction is a way of establishing a connection with a partner, usually by using body language and sounds, rather than words, to tune into their emotional state. It is most often used with those who are non-verbal but is beginning to be used more often with those who are in the early stages of verbal communication, or with those who are highly verbal but not conversational. You start by observing what your partner is doing and then join in by mirroring their movements, gestures or sounds. Once you have their attention, you can start to take turns and add something new – for example if your partner is banging the wall, you could tap the floor in a slightly different rhythm. This is very important – Intensive Interaction isn’t just about copying, but about building up a kind of non-verbal conversation, which involves listening, taking turns and building on what the other person has done, in order to maintain attention and create an emotional bond. It can be combined very effectively with sensory integration therapy, which uses activities based on the senses to promote focus and attention.

The best way to learn about Intensive Interaction is to see it in practice, as in the video clips  below. The first is an extract from a training DVD showing Phoebe Caldwell working with a non- verbal partner, while the second, which starts with an interview with Dave Hewett, shows how the approach can work with a verbal child.


2 thoughts on “Intensive Interaction: a summary

  1. Anxious Mother

    Love this film about Intensive Interaction. I agree with the guy that language is nothing without the non/pre verbal communication. We have been using a different approach but with the same aim called Not Just Talking. And that cuddly/growly stuff we just do ourselves. My 3 yo daughter in particular is a great therapist and loves to have nonsense conversations with her brother that go back and forth just working on the intonation and turn taking aspects – the content is of little importance.


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