What is an intervention?
An intervention is where the family and/or friends of an individual take action to persuade that person to enter treatment. An intervention can be useful when the individual is unwilling to get help or refuses to see that they have a problem and how it is affecting their loved ones.
It is important to understand that the circumstances of each family are very different and therefore, interventions will vary. What works for one family may not work for another. It is important to find an interventionist with whom the family members feel comfortable and can discuss how the process will work for them.
What happens during an intervention?
During the intervention, the individual being supported is invited to join their friends and family, who will already be seated. The interventionist’s role is to lead and control the meeting.
Each family member or friend may have written letters to their loved one, and each person reads their letter one at a time. Typically, the letters will share how much the individual means to that person, the effect of the individual’s behaviour on that person and a description of how they want their relationship to work in the future. Each person will ask the individual to accept help now. Prior to the intervention meeting, arrangements will have been made so that the individual can enter treatment immediately following the intervention if they agree to this.
The intervention is conducted from a position of love, respect and support. However, the message is firm and there is no room for negotiation or debate. All those present want the individual to accept help now. Ideally, at this point, the individual will agree to entering treatment and the interventionist then calls the treatment centre to confirm the arrangements that have been set up. Someone from the group will then take the individual directly to the treatment centre immediately after the intervention meeting.
After the intervention day, friends and family members will begin putting their plans for taking care of themselves into practice.
Why conduct an intervention?
Friends and family members usually choose to stage an intervention when they have tried everything else and have not been able to persuade the individual to get help. Where individuals are unwilling to admit they have a problem, or to see the effects of their destructive behaviours on others, an intervention can be an effective way to persuade them to accept help and enter treatment.
Interventions are effective for a number of reasons. Enlisting the help of a professional interventionist means that the meeting can be controlled, stay on track, and prevent deviating from the purpose of the intervention. Involving several friends and family members, rather than just one other person, can be a much more powerful way to convey the message to the individual. Additionally, the participation of people who are all very important to the individual makes it more difficult for the message to be ignored. The powerful nature of this experience can temporarily disturb the individual’s destructive thinking long enough to hear a firm but loving message and agree to receive the support that they require.
Who can help me with arranging an intervention?
We can help you to find a professional interventionist. Interventions can be a difficult, challenging and often emotional experience for all those who attend. It is therefore essential that the family enlists the help of a dedicated professional who can effectively facilitate the session with sensitivity, respect and clarity. It is not advisable to conduct an intervention without the involvement of a professional interventionist.
This page was reviewed by Steve Clarke, Hospital Director, (MSc, NCFED) in 2019 and is scheduled to be reviewed again in 2021.