The kindest and most loving thing family and friends can do
During our lifetime there may be many occasions when we must tell people how their actions are hurting them as well as impinging on us, so that they will stop. As difficult as it may be, we know that if we don’t step in, the behavior will continue. This is probably the most familiar meaning of intervention. Anytime someone needs help but refuses to accept it, a family intervention is appropriate. A family intervention can be used for people engaged in a self-destructive behavior like:
- Home Runaway
- Deliberate self-harm
- Suicidal behavior
- Eating disorders
- Diabetes and other primary disorders
- Behavior of entitlement
- Indiscipline and rude behavior
- Broken Promises
- Mood swings
- Resistance to assisted living in old age
Structured Intervention is the most loving, powerful and successful method yet for helping people accept help. A family intervention can be done with love and respect in a non-confrontational, non-judgmental manner. A family intervention is often the answer, the only answer. It can be done. It can be done now.
Family and friends may initially be apprehensive and confused. They may be ambivalent about whether or not to do the intervention. Some may be afraid of the person, others may be angry. The goal is to move from this disorganized and chaotic state to a cohesive, focused group.
In regard to alcoholism and addiction, intervention has a particular meaning because of the nature of the problem. Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is an insidious illness that creeps up on a person, creating denial and eventually self-delusion about the reality and seriousness of the situation. The person who has grown dependent on alcohol or another mind-altering drug is not the only one whose thinking has become distorted by denial and delusion. Those who are closest to that person also lose touch with the reality of the situation. Addiction ensures the user – and those who are close – into a self-destructive system of feeling, thinking, and behaving.
A major task of the helping-professional is to break through that tightly bound system of defenses so that those who care about a loved one can take effective action to help him or her and to help themselves. This requires more than “stepping in.” Because of the nature of chemical dependence, a successful intervention must include both confrontation (about facts, followed by feelings) and support. However, while presenting reality during the whole adventure of intervention you need to express love and maintain respect.
To do this, the participants meet with the leader beforehand to educate themselves about the dysfunction, to determine how to best help themselves, and to prepare for Intervention Day. This includes identifying others who should be involved, exploring appropriate treatment options, and preparing what they are going to say.
This preparation often involves several meetings, telephone calls, and culminates in a practice session immediately prior to the Intervention Day. The time varies, but the process is usually contained within one to two weeks. Sometimes it can be shortened to a weekend.
Family Intervention Day
Imagine family, friends, work colleagues and an intervention leader entering a loved one’s home or office. As the leader ensures the process is orderly and safe, the loved one hears how much he means to everyone there, how he affects them with his behavior, and what they want their relationship with him to be in the future. Then the loved one is asked to accept help now; appropriate arrangements are already in place. The tone is loving, respectful and supportive, but firm; there is no debate. Seeing his many loved ones, friends and colleagues together, the loved one hears what they say and knows he can no longer hide his problem. Nor does he want to.
Much remains to be done. The education process continues. Participants follow through on their plans for helping themselves.
It is never business as usual again
Family Interventions Vary
Because each family situation is different, the scope and approach to each intervention must vary accordingly. What may be practical and appropriate for one family may not be for another. For example, some family interventions require several weeks of preparation, others can be done in a few hours or days. Some have a designated “intervention day” on which a formal intervention occurs, others not. Some family interventions have a professional leader present, others not. Often a family intervention occurs in the person’s home, others in the leader’s office. Some are a surprise, others are not. Sometimes a great deal of family education takes place before the intervention, in others it takes place afterward.
Furthermore, since people embarking on an intervention often feel ambivalent and apprehensive, it is important that they trust the interventionist. Should you ever feel uneasy with your interventionist, that you are being asked to do something you do not understand or agree with, you would be wise to ask questions.