Mention the word “Intervention” to anyone you talk to, and they’ll tell you that they have at least a vague idea of what the process entails. You create a group scenario for an addict and his loved ones to interact, in order to have said person to seek treatment. This is thanks to intervention portrayals in TV series and movies, and although not an entirely wrong summation of the basics of the process, it is a dangerously lacking definition.
Interactions in an interventions setup are delicate, and the interventions themselves are intricate. There’s no single recipe or standardized protocol you can follow step-by-step in every individual situation.
Every patient behaves and responds to different kinds of things. One patient can be very responsive to a confrontational style interventions process while taking the same approach with another person might cause it to shut down and reject the whole notion entirely.
And that’s why we need to talk about and answer the question “What are intervention techniques?”
Intervention techniques, a caveat:
Capable, trained professionals need to possess a wide array of tools and techniques available to them.
However, tools by themselves are ineffective (and can be outright harmful) when they aren’t paired with the sound and experienced judgment of how to use them effectively.
So, before we talk about the specifics of intervention techniques, I’d like to make something clear:
Information alone is not enough. Going over the concepts, strategies, and examples of the methods competent operators usually employ in intervention settings is very useful to give you insight into the process and how/why it works.
Also Read: Drug and alcohol intervention
But, in real life situations, where you are dealing with complex, powerful emotions, having options about what to do is just half of it. To be able to gauge when and where those tools can be handy, and more importantly when they shouldn’t come into play is as necessary – if not even more so –to get results and get through the patient to foster real change.
Any intervention setup needs to happen under a highly individualized framework, approaching the situation by assessing each particular individual need and adapting the dynamics, goals, and strategies on a case-by-case basis.
What are intervention techniques? – The models:
Know that there are as many models to have an intervention as there are people out there.
What we’ll discuss here are merely the most common ways to classify them, as the initial framework and approach the intervention expert can use to structure the whole activity. Judging which method fits best with the subject’s behavior and needs.
Johnson Model: The most recognized one, and probably the one you refer to when the word “intervention” is mentioned. This model uses surprise and a highly confrontational style of interacting with the patient, having friends and family confront the addict with the help of the Interventionist. The group discusses the patient’s behavior, and the consequences it has had on their loved ones’ lives, in an effort to convince the addict to enroll in treatment by facing him with an ultimatum and consequences should he or she refuse.
Invitational model: In contrast with Jonson’s, the invitational model lacks the element of surprise and shock. In this approach, the family, friends, and the addict schedule a workshop with the interventionist. The patient knows full well of what the meeting will be about and what subject will be discussed, and the option to enroll in treatment is less pushed to the patient.
Field Model: This one works as a mix of the first two. Here, the interventionist is given more leeway. He’s free to make decisions “in the field,” and judge in real time the best approach to take with the patient. This is a highly flexible model that can be adapted to the situation at hand, ideal for cases where the addict is prone to react in a negative or even violent manner.
Systemic Intervention: This model of intervention is ideal when a confrontational approach is not the best option (for example, when dealing with hostile or defensive addicts.) It consists of having the family of the affected discuss how their behavior enables or contributes to the patient’s substance abuse and focuses on changing those to encourage the addict to crease the use and enter therapy.
Motivational Interviewing: Focusing less on strategy and more on counseling through conversation with the addict, this model of intervention’s goal is to encourage the addict to make positive behavioral changes through engaging in conversation. The therapist guides the patient out of a substance dependency by understanding his point of view and offering empathy and new tools to deal with the underlying causes of the addiction.
What are intervention techniques? – The principles:
Now before you leave, I also wanted to mention that these models are just the initial frameworks from which a competent interventionist decides to approach the subject.
More than knowing these things, a competent counselor needs to have mastery in other areas, such as communication and listening skills, that is, to be able to focus, observe, understand, and respond with empathy to the patient and family interactions and conversations.
He also needs to be experienced and confident enough to continually draw accurate assessments on the situation as it evolves, as he seeks information through conversation, actively listening and interpreting what is going on.
Finally, he needs to be prudent and judge when is best to stand back and let the affected sort things out, and when to step up and guide the dynamics – either in a directive or nondirective way – in a collaborative way.
All these are essential pieces for having a successful intervention experience, capable of helping the people involved.