An intervention is NOT an ambush, a deception, a betrayal, a gang-up, an attack, a fight, or a punishment. An intervention is simply an interruption. It is a call to action. It is the last resort. It is a hostage negotiation. It is proof that family and friends have not given up. It is a gift that gives the loved one something to fight for. It is a solution. An intervention is an orchestrated attempt by one or many people, usually members of the individual’s support system, to encourage, guide, and offer someone professional help with an addiction, traumatic event, crisis, or other unhealthy behavior that is impacting the quality of their life.
Just as no two situations are the same, no two interventions are the same. There are, however, four general approaches to interrupting dangerous and self-destructive behavior.
The level of readiness to change and individual exhibits determine the intervention approach. This determination can be used with chemical addiction, process addiction, and some mental health disorders, including eating disorders.
The surprise approach is a structured and well-rehearsed production. A support team is chosen consisting of those who are committed to supporting the recovery, not the addiction, and usually consists of 4-6 people. A team meeting is scheduled without the knowledge of the person of concern. During this meeting, the team reviews and discusses addiction education, family system education, and intervention preparation information.
The invitational approach is more relaxed and less structured. It differs from the surprise model in three distinct ways. First, the meeting is usually smaller, more intimate, and more relaxed, consisting of 2-3 people. Second, the person of concern is informed about the meeting and invited to attend. Third, it does not include the formality of writing letters. Concerns are discussed, and solutions are presented in a more open forum.
The family approach is a process, not an event. This approach rolls with resistance. It requires weeks of committed family coaching that in turn creates favorable, non-confrontational motivation that drives the person of concern to get the necessary help and re-align with the family.
The crisis approach is an immediate response requiring fast on your feet creative thinking and strategic action. This is an approach used when time is critical, for example, a shut-in who is in danger of self-harm, during hospitalization due to overdose, accident or mental health legal hold, an arrest, or if the person of concern is in treatment and is threatening to leave early.
It is important to find a credible, certified, and experienced intervention specialist when trying to get help for your loved one. Choosing someone you trust and can connect with is important because honesty and vulnerability are a massive part of the intervention process. If you are unsure if you need an intervention specialist, it could be a good idea to reach out to one and get their feedback. If the situation is not severe, you may realize that:
There is no charge for a call or email to determine if a professional is necessary for your intervention.
Families, friends, and employers have tried saying what is on our minds, and it has not worked. It causes defenses and makes things worse. The only way to be heard is if it is coming from the heart. A letter is a valuable tool. It is a well-written script that offers the solution.
Reading letters breaks through the addicted person’s protective defense of denial. Letters also help prevent distractions, spontaneous anger, and freezing up.
After presenting your letter, the silence is broken, the secret is out, and you have forever spoiled any fun that may have been left in using. They are used at the intervention, and they are used later by the treatment team.
The letter should be no longer than one page and should take about two minutes to read.
There are three parts to the letter:
Part Two: Express Concern
Part Three: Express how you feel.
Be Aware of:
Heather is triple board certified in three clinical specialties: intervention, family dynamics and relapse prevention. She has acquired over 50,000 hours in addiction and mental health studies and training and years of experience. As one of the nation’s preferred and leading experts in this specialized field, she is known for successful outcomes in the most complicated cases. She is highly skilled at negotiating change using motivational techniques such as tactical empathy and emotional intelligence while preserving the privacy, dignity, and respect of her clients.