If someone you love is struggling with alcohol, drug addiction, compulsive gambling or other destructive behaviors, staging an intervention might be the best way to help the person get better. People with serious addictive behaviors are often in denial that they have a problem. When heart to heart talks and other attempts to help prove ineffective, you can join forces with friends, families and a professional interventionist to confront the person with the truth and a detailed plan of action.
Typically, a concerned family member will reach out for help setting up and executing an intervention. The family may already have a good idea of the participants that want to be included in the meeting. If family members want to participate but logistically cannot make the intervention, they are asked to write a letter. I ask that the family members, as many as possible, meet with me in my office to go over background information of the identified person of concern, the family dynamics and a sense of what the family is hoping for as an outcome of this intervention. This is an important session for us to get to know each other and come together as a team working towards a common goal. We will discuss the time, date and location of the intervention.
Between the initial session and the "dress rehearsal," I ask each family members to think about their personal expectations for the concerned person, the family member's limits and boundaries and the positive and negative consequences they are prepared to follow through with as a result of the intervention. (For example if the person agrees to go to treatment a family member may list all the ways they are willing to be present and supportive in the identified person's life. If the person does not go to treatment, the family member may break communication with the person for their own health and well being.) Family members will be asked to write down what they plan to say and bring it to the "dress rehearsal."
During the "dress rehearsal," family members run through the process of the intervention to practice what they will say and how they will deliver their message and we will discuss feedback as a group. Interventions are usually a surprise to the person of concern and they may have a mix of reactions. The person of concern may have found themselves in a difficult spot and may or may not be aware of the severity of their actions. Often I see the person of concern hold a lot of shame (which can come off as defensiveness). Family members will be prepared for this and coached in how to be compassionate and supportive even though they may be experiencing difficult emotions of their own.
On intervention day, I will meet with the family members together and then all meet with the person of concern as a group. I will facilitate the process similar to the "dress rehearsal," paying close attention to the person of concern and helping them both listen to family members and process their own feelings in the moment. The family will present a "Treatment Plan" or list of what they are expecting from the person of concern, along with each family member's stated positive and negative consequences. The person of concern may be asked to make immediate action, or be left to think about their options as the family has clearly stated their boundaries.
In this process, family members receive education about addiction or other issue the person of concern is having. Family members will learn about realistic expectations for the person of concern, ways to support their loved one while identifying and being true to their own needs and personal boundaries, and set realistic expectations for themselves as family members and look at their own self care and need for external support.
If you have questions about the intervention process, please contact me at 518-788-9488 or firstname.lastname@example.org