History of TCI

The Development of TCI must be seen in light of Ruth C. Cohn's biography.

Ruth Cohn came from an upper class Judeo-Christian family whose thinking she represented in a secularized way in her basic humanistic stance. She transformed her existential experiences (persecution, emigration) into the hope of supporting humane action in all areas of society by strengthening self-confidence combined with an vital system of values.

She studied Psychoanalysis (specifically S. Freud, H.S. Sullivan, A.Adler) in Zürich; she was philosophically influenced by the optimistic, American brand of Existentialism. Additional impulses came from reform pedagogy and body therapy. TCI can thus be seen as a part of the humanistic psychology movement that regarded itself as being situated between Psychoanalysis on the one side and Behaviorism on the other. She was particularly impressed with the founder of Gestalt therapy, Fritz Perls, and with Carl Rogers, who developed client-centered therapy, and with the group therapist, Asya Kadis.

"From the treatment of individuals to a pedagogy for everyone" is the programmatic sub-title of her book "Von der Psychoanalyse zur Themenzentrierten Interaktion" that was published in German in 1975. She distanced herself from exclusive individual treatment, moving to a democratic pedagogic approach. In the 1970s, especially in Germany, TCI was received enthusiastically, and there was a great desire and need for self-awareness, personality expansion, and self-determination. At that time TCI differed from all other group methods in its task orientation (active use of a "theme").

Cohn's heart beat for pedagogiy. This can be seen in her own pedagogic practice, starting with a pre-school apprenticeship. Later on she worked in the Bankstreet school in New York, and finally she was a counselor at the "Ecole d'humanité" (Hasliberg, Switzerland). It was easy for her to employ the TCI method in pedagogy, however the term pedagogy must be understood here in its widest sense. Since the 1970s TCI has been successfully employed in schools that had reform pedagogy and emancipatory goals.

The influence of its Judeo-Christian value system was certainly the reason for the widely spread use of TCI, along with Psychotherapy, especially in the church, although Ruth Cohn's focus was never religious but rather humanistic.

In the past few years TCI has, in addition to its "classical" uses (in the areas of Psychotherapy, Pedagogy, Social Work) made in-roads into organizational, team and personal development. This ties in with the fact that, in the early 60s,  Ruth Cohn began to work using her concept in various organizations in industry.

TCI has also had an impact on various other group methods, although this impact has not always been mentioned explicitly. The "postulates" and the "auxiliary rules" have been widely, if often simplistically, employed.  TCI is also open to the methods of other approaches.

Currently TCI continues to be developed through research in the fields of pedagogy and social work.