Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 250–269 | Cite as

Facilitating autonomy in passive-dependent persons: An integrative model

  • James C. Overholser


Passive and dependent qualities are commonly found in psychiatric patients suffering from a variety of disorders. While such tendencies are often secondary to an Axis I clinical syndrome, they are occasionally more persistent and refractory. The present article attempts to provide therapeutic guidelines useful when working with clients displaying stable personality traits of passivity and dependency. An attempt is made to adapt and combine several therapeutic techniques to be applicable to passive-dependent clients. More specifically, problem-solving approaches and self-control strategies can be used to facilitate autonomy if precautions are taken to reduce the dogmatic and didactic styles commonly employed with these techniques. The Socratic method of interviewing is posited as a useful means of developing problem-solving skills without creating unnecessary dependence on the therapist. Self-control strategies can help reduce the reliance on others as the primary source of satisfaction for dependent clients. In this way, passive-dependent clients may become more self- reliant and autonomous in their daily functioning.


Public Health Social Psychology Personality Trait Present Article Primary Source 
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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • James C. Overholser
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyButler HospitalProvidence

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