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What are intervention strategies?

Any intervention setup you find yourself in is bound to be charged with a lot of energy, anxiety, and anticipation. It is a complex, emotional interaction between a multifaceted group of people. You have, of course, the person with substance dependency. The lynchpin on who’s the whole endeavor is based upon and developed for. You have the addict’s family, friends, co-workers, etc. A group of people who love or care deeply about the addict’s well-being. They want their recovery, and in most cases, have also been deeply affected by the addict’s actions and choices in the past.

And you have your professional interventionists. Qualified, prepared individuals who are there all the way. From planning face to the follow-up stages after the intervention has been had, whose sole purpose is to enact a positive change in the life of those involved.

An intervention is a situation comprised of many moving parts, that deals with such a delicate subject matter. Where emotions are liable to run wild at a moment’s notice. As such, it is essential to be aware of and has at least an understanding of several helpful methods. It also includes tactics that can facilitate the process and drive the whole endeavor to the desired outcome: The patient deciding to seek treatment and getting/staying clean.

At the early stages of planning and preparation for any intervention, as my co-workers and I keep referring to them to orient the participants about what to expect and how to behave, one of the most common questions they ask is “What are intervention strategies?

Since it is such an important subject, I wanted to put something together talking about the specific tactics and strategies we professional Interventionists (and people involved in intervention to a degree) need to possess to bring about the happy resolution.

Intervention Strategies – The rundown:

Now, there are many desirable attributes and techniques one wants to possess in order to lead or participate in a successful intervention. Trying to encompass such a broad subject would bring more confusion than anything else, so instead I rather touch on three topics that I consider form the cornerstone of any capable professional interventionist, and I’ve divided them into three categories: Strategies for listening, Strategies for Assessing, and Strategies for action.

What are intervention strategies for listening?

Listening means to focus one attention, observation, understanding in what another person is trying to express (verbally or nonverbally), and then responding in a manner that is genuine and empathic, with acceptance and respect.  As I mentioned above, Interventions are very emotionally charged situations. And unless you are genuinely open to listening carefully and sensibly, in a non-judgmental manner, it is fairly easy for the process to lose is focus and go awry.

Also Read: What is a Drug or Alcohol Intervention?

Some common listening strategies used by Interventionists are:

  • Using open-ended questions like “What…” or “How…” as exploration tools. These types of questions encourage information sharing and make people more likely to express feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
  • Using close-ended questions to hone in on details. Using “Yes or No” questions can help a facilitator to explore more in-depth a particular subject or issue, and gain a deeper understanding of why they do what they do.
  • Restating and clarifying. During an intervention, it is important not to leave room for misinterpretation or misunderstandings. Restating what someone said can be used to ensure this or to keep the focus of the conversation on a particular topic.
  • Using “I” statements and owning feelings being expressed. Employing “I” statements (e.g., “I am going to explain the reason why we are here…) can be a powerful tool to support clear an effective communication with the addict and the people involved in the program.

What are intervention strategies for Assessing?

Assessing involves practices to intentionally seek information and explore what is actively being listened to. Interpreting what the participants are sharing and engaging when it becomes appropriate. And also to gauge the emotional and psychological state of those involved. Assessing the conversation constantly gives powerful insights into emotional mobility/immobility, options, coping mechanisms, and support systems.

Some common assessing strategies used by Interventionists are:

  • Having a grasp of the room’s emotional state. Knowing when a conversation is steering into potentially negative feelings is critical to conduct a successful intervention. Keeping a finger on the pulse of the emotions of those involved is necessary to detect emotional distress. This helps to avoid having the addict withdrawn or reticent to what’s been said.
  • Observation of behavior. Just observing a person behavior can supply the interventionist with invaluable information about how the addict and those around him are responding to the situation. Having a person rapidly pacing around or sitting immobile convey two very different mental processes.
  • Judging of cognitive state. Sometimes, what people are saying and the way they are saying it can reveal a great deal of how they are handling the process. Interventionists are trained to pick up and consider when verbal communication is being coherent and logical when everything is making sense.

What are intervention strategies for action?

Taking action during an Intervention involves intentionally responding to the group’s interaction, the conversation, and the situation as a whole. This can be achieved in three main ways, nondirective, collaborative, and directive. Clear judgment and restraint have to be exercised, since how much and how effective these approaches are. They will vary significantly from intervention to intervention.

Some common action strategies used by Interventionists are:

  • Nondirective Counseling happens when the addict and his circle are able to plan and implement concrete plans and actions to facilitate them seeking treatment. In these instances, the interventionist takes more of an assisting role, commenting and supporting what is being done and said.
  • Collaborative Counseling involves working together with the group as they evaluate the problem. They also help in identifying the options for recovery and taking the actions necessary to achieve it. This is the most common role seen taken by a professional interventionist.
  • Directive counseling is rarer in interventions. It is only used when the addict displays a detachment or immobilization to the whole situation. Using directive counseling an interventionist can take temporary control and responsibility for the situation. This will help to drive the patient and the group to a more receptive state. Most likely alternating between the directive and collaborative approaches.

As mentioned at the beginning, these are but a few of the many strategic approaches interventionist use.  These are also very essential that anyone participating in one has a clear understanding of them for the process to go more smoothly.

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