Interventions: What Every Family Should Know
As a highly trained, certified and experienced interventionist, my job is to work with families on how to motivate loved ones in need of treatment to get the appropriate level of care. Here are some things I believe every family should know about professional interventions, and about hiring the right interventionist.
First of all, what is an “Intervention?” Interventions are a highly effective tool to place an addicted and/or diagnosed mentally disordered individual on the path to a successful recovery, led by a trained and experienced professional. When conducted properly by a competent interventionist, they are successful in getting the person into treatment about 80% of the time. An intervention is NOT what you may have seen on various TV shows!
What are the advantages to hiring a professional Interventionist? Most important is that a third-party is not emotionally invested in the events that led up to the intervention. While they certainly empathize with the situation, they are able to view both the loved one and the family much more objectively. This allows them to focus on tapping into the natural resilience and wisdom of every family in a way that helps them unite around a common goal, despite any past hurts and differences. Coordinating the process skillfully based on the love, compassion and strength of the family is highly effective in motivating the loved one to choose treatment.
When should an Interventionist be contacted? Most families call me after they have already tried many different things by themselves to motivate the person to get help, without success. They often reach out to me when they see an addiction or mental health problem escalating with their loved one, but it is not yet critical or life-threatening. Other times families call my intervention practice in crisis, desperate for help with a situation a loved one is in as a result of addiction or other mental health disorder. In these cases, an intervention would be the best course of action.
Sometimes families call me seeking advice about how to proceed with an addicted family member. By seeking professional assistance at this point, families are occasionally able to naturally interact with their loved one in a way that motivates them to get help. In these cases, the family just needs to consult with me briefly on the best treatment options for their loved one, and a full-scale intervention may not be necessary.
What’s involved in the intervention process? The intervention process begins with a complimentary phone consultation. During this call, the interventionist will gather information about your particular loved one’s situation and your concerns (i.e. your loved one has been using meth, showed up drunk at a family gathering, drove intoxicated endangering themselves and/or others, was arrested or landed in an emergency room, etc. and is denying there is a problem). You will discuss what has been done already, and a determination will be made as to whether the family may be overreacting or if an intervention would be the best course of action at this point. You will receive general info about the intervention and what to expect, as well as given an opportunity to ask any questions you may have at that time.
Intervention preparation begins with making a list of family members and friends, and the interventionist will speak with each of them. Everyone participating will then prepare letters to the person expressing their love for them, the concerns they have, request they seek treatment and establish boundaries going forward. Dates will be set for both the intervention and an in-person dress rehearsal a day or two before. Based on the information provided by family and friends during the conversations, several treatment plans will be presented to the family. A decision will be made collectively as to the preferred option for the loved one, and transportation to treatment will be arranged.
The loved one is contacted the day before the intervention and “invited” to sit down and talk with the family about their concerns. During the actual intervention the family’s role is simply to share their letters and make the request of their loved one while the interventionist uses his professional skills not only to maintain order, but to bring out the strength of the family and help the individual take ownership in the decision to get help. Each person and every situation is unique, so exact details are determined based on experience and best practices, with a good outcome as the priority. Individuals do not always agree to go on the first attempt; however, the vast majority of individuals do end up choosing to go into treatment within a few weeks of the initial intervention.
Once a person is in treatment, the interventionist works with the family and the facility/program to coordinate a discharge plan, and aftercare once the person is released from treatment. A good interventionist will manage the aftercare process in a way that not only makes sure the individual gets the care they need, but that the entire family gets what they need as well to heal and be able to support their loved one in recovery. A well-prepared aftercare and relapse prevention plan ensures that your loved one is able to make a smooth transition to the necessary local resources after leaving treatment, and begin a successful recovery track.
In my practice, some interventions last up to 12 months from beginning to end; therefore, it is important to understand that a good intervention is a process – not an event.
Important considerations when selecting an Interventionist:
The professional should be independent and NOT affiliated with or employed by a treatment facility or program
The person should hold a certificate in a credible, evidence-based intervention style/paradigm (i.e. Certified Arise Interventionist – CAI)
In addition to intervention training, the person should also have a clinical degree and be a licensed professional (i.e. LPC, PsyD, LCSW, etc.), as this ensures adherence to a strict code of ethics developed to protect patients seeking treatment
The individual should be able to say that they have participated in onsite visits to the programs they recommend, or at minimum have a close professional colleague who has
A highly competent interventionist should not only offer services for addiction, but also be a skilled clinician capable of conducting interventions for mental health disorders as well
And please – no matter what – do NOT rely on treatment finder websites or contact call centers with 800 numbers to get information on treatment for your loved one! Always consult a mental health professional in your area for recommendations. Unfortunately, there are many unethical practices and individuals out there taking advantage of people during a time of crisis, who only care about money and not what is best for your loved one.
About Dr. Joseph Kirkpatrick: Over the past 15 years, Dr. Kirkpatrick has developed a heartfelt passion and advanced skillset for interventions and crisis management. His seasoned approach is caring, inviting and assures the best outcome for your loved one. His style is to bring the individual in need of care into the conversation early so they can take ownership in their decision to get help, and have a voice in deciding the best treatment options for their needs. Each person and every situation is unique, and his services are determined and provided with the best outcome as the priority.
Joseph is with you and your family through the entire process – providing professional guidance during and through the crisis, intervention preparation, the intervention itself, selecting the appropriate level of treatment, arranging safe transport, communicating with family and providers during treatment, and developing an Aftercare Recovery Plan.
Interventions and crisis management services are available for all Addictions (including Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, Pornography, Gambling, Gaming and Internet) as well as Bipolar Disorder, Severe Depression, Schizophrenia, Trauma and Psychosis.