Dr. Louise Stanger, Spring 2014

Welcome To Spring 2014. In this edition, I aim to share what some of the top in their field have to say about three different topics:


Musings from the Top

What do top interventionists have to say?

Over the last 6 months, I have had the privilege of talking with some of the top interventionists in the country. Regardless if they are from the North, South, East, or West or whether they favor their own model, Authentic, Systemic, Breakthrough, Invitational or a variation of the Johnson Model… SURPRISE… they share a common ground.

1. Training is important: No matter who you are or where you are from, whether you are a PHD, an MFT, LCSW, MD or have only a ‘hard knocks’ degree, do not be fooled, training is a necessary ingredient in becoming an Interventionist.

2. Training is not everything: Taking a weekend course, does not make one an interventionist and taking part in a supervision group, does not make one an interventionist either.

3. Being in Recovery does not mean you know how to conduct an intervention. Do not be arrogant; it will do you and your client in!

4. Mentoring is important: Get yourself a mentor. Practice makes perfect. You must be nimble, flexible and humble. You are dealing with folks in crisis and it is a very sensitive issue. Shadow along.

5. Get to know your client: Knowing their family, friends and work environment is key to a successful intervention. Spending enough time to learn about folks pay off in guiding someone to want to change. Interviewing folks individually and learning what a genogram is and how to create one is a must. Interventions must include collaborative care plans and expand over time. They are not one-day-one-shot deals.

6. Family and friends have their own issues: They may have more problems than the Identified Love One (ILO) that you are intervening on. Remember, you are there to join forces for a common good, and not to assess and diagnose the whole team. With that being stated having folks who have their own mental health and or substance abuse problems in an intervention poses some challenges. Remember you are bringing a group together for the common goal of getting their ILO treatment.

7. Encourage change: Unless family and friends change the way they interact with their ILO, the intervention will have little chance of success.

8. Know what dual diagnosis means, not just didactic: The DSM V can only take one so far; it is essentially a billing tool. How well do you know how to actually work with someone in a substance induced psychosis, a hoarder, or someone who is borderline or schizoaffective? Before you take on a dual case, what do you know about folks who have a substance abuse and mental health disorder and how do you intervene?


9. Ethics are important: Are you an independent interventionist? Are you an owner of a treatment center? How do your personal and professional ethics come into play? Suppose you own or collaborate closely with a center and it’s the wrong match. What do you do?

10. Not all treatment centers are alike: One must be well versed in treatment centers in order to make good referrals. The better the patient matching is, the better chance of success.

11. Collaborate with others: I have the privilege of working with a top-notch lawyer who specializes in alternative sentencing as well as professional colleagues from ASAM physicians, addiction psychiatrists, clinicians and other interventionists who at a moments notice I do not hesitate to call upon.

12. Understand that interventions are an art AND a science: There is a wealth of evidence-based theories from MI, CBT, 12 steps, DBT etc. that an interventionist may employ. Beyond that there is a true art that allows one to join up with a family and transform their crisis into hope.

Over the next few months, I will be continuing to interview and mull over data I have gathered. There are many good interventionists out there and I will include tidbits that I have gathered along the way.

I believe interventions are a process in which one must be nimble on their feet; ever present in the moment and always starting where the client is, not where the model lies. A person must be well versed in different modalities, work with a team that challenges and complements their skills and always be open to learning, growing, sharing and transforming. No two families are alike in the same sense that no two interventions are alike. Lastly, an interventionist needs to be humble and truthful enough to give work to another colleague, not because they are too busy to take on the task but rather because they are not the right fit for that family and/or friends.


Interventionists interviewed in alphabetical order include and are not limited to.

Ron Armstrong, Pacific Palisades, Ca
Norm Boshoff, Laguan Beach, Ca
Pat Beashear, Alton, Illinois
Joe Capella – Indian Wells, Ca
Burr Cook, Nashville, Tenn.
Sean Firtel, Oceanside, Ca
Tondra Frisby, Sandusky, Ohio
Judith Landau, Colorado Jeffrey Merrick, Hollywood, Ca
Angela Pugh, Kansas City, Missouri
Wayne Raitner, Cummings, GA.
Phil Shear, Peoria, Illinois
Ken Seeley, Palm Springs, Ca
Louise Stanger , West Hollywood, Ca- La Jolla, Ca
Ed Storti, San Pedro, Ca




Recently, I was introduced to Dr. Wendy Mogel, who is an internationally known psychologist and the author of,

The Blessings of a Skinned Knee

The Blessing of a B-.

In our field we often deal with families who hover around their loves ones in ways that prohibit or stunt their growth. Dr. Wendy has a 26-step program for Good Parents Gone Bad. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share these with you, as we can adapt them easily into our own practice.

1. Don’t mistake a snapshot taken today with the epic movie of your child’s life. Kids go through phases, glorious ones and rotten ones.

2. Don’t fret over or try to fix what’s not broken. Accept your child’s nature even if he’s shy, stubborn, moody, or not great at math.

3. Look at anything up close and you’ll see the flaws. Consider it perfectly normal if you like your child’s friends better than you like your child.

4. Work up the courage to say a simple “no.” Don’t try to reach consensus every time.

5. Encourage your child to play or spend time outside using all five senses in the three-‐ dimensional world. How come only troubled rich kids get to go to the wilderness these days? Send them to camp for the longest stretch you can afford. Enjoy nature together as a family.

6. Don’t confuse children’s wants with their needs. Don’t fall for the smooth talking. 15-year-old’s line, “Mom, you’ll probably want to buy me a brand new car because it’ll be really, really, really safe… definitely safer than me driving your big old van.” Privileges are not entitlements.

7. Remember that kids are hardy perennials, not hothouse flowers. Let them be cold, wet, or hungry for more than a second and they’ll appreciate the chance to be warm, dry, and fed.

8. Abstain from taking the role of Sherpa, butler, crabby concierge, secret police, short order cook, or lady’s maid. Your child is hard-wired for competence. Let them do for themselves.

9. Before you nag, remind, criticize, advise, chime in, preach, or over-explain, say to yourself “W.A.I.T.” or “Why am I talking?” Listen four times more than you talk.

10. Remember that disappointments are necessary preparation for adult life. When your child doesn’t get invited to her friend’s birthday party, make the team, or get a big part in the play, stay calm. Without these experiences she will be ill equipped for the real world.

11. Be alert but not automatically alarmed. Question yourself. Stop and reflect: is this situation unsafe or just uncomfortable for my child? Is it an emergency or a new challenge?

12. Learn to love the words “trial” and “error.” Let your child make mistakes before going off to college. Grant freedom based on demonstrated responsibility and accountability, not what all the other kids are doing.


13. Don’t be surprised or discouraged when your big kid has a babyish tantrum or meltdown. Don’t confuse sophistication with maturity. Setbacks naturally set them back. They set us back too, but we can always have a margarita.

14. Allow your child to do things that scare you. You have to let her take some steps on her own, without holding your hand, if you want her to grow increasingly independent and self-‐confident. Let her get her learner’s permit when she comes of age; let her choose her own boyfriend.

15. Don’t take it personally if your teenager treats you like crap. Judge his character not on the consistency of in-house politeness, clarity of speech, or degree of eye contact but on what teachers say, whether he is welcomed by his friends’ parents, and his manners with neighbors, salespeople, and servers in restaurants.

16. Don’t automatically allow your child to quit an activity or avoid something that she doesn’t like. It’s her right to hate any person, activity, or institution and it’s unlikely you’ll change her mind. It is, however, her obligation to continue what she’s started or fulfill her commitment. But take her preferences into account when making the next agenda.

17. Just because your parents weren’t as attuned to your emotional needs as you might have wished, refrain from trying to be popular with your children. Watch out for the common parental pattern of “nice, nice, nice…furious!”

18. Avoid the humble-brag parent lest you begin to believe that your child is already losing the race. Remind yourself that grades, popularity, or varsity ranking are not a measure of your worth as a parent. Recognize that those other parents are lying.

19. Wait at least 24 hours before shooting off an indignant email to a teacher, coach, or the parent of a mean classmate. Don’t be a “drunk texter.” Sleep on it.

20. Consider the long-term consequences of finding work-a-rounds for the “no-candy-in- camp-care-package” rule. If you demonstrate that rules are made to be broken and shortcuts can always be found, you have given your child license to plagiarize or cheat on tests.

21. Maintain perspective about school and college choices. Parents caught up in the admissions arms race forget that the qualities of the student rather than the perceived status of the school are the best predictor of a good outcome.

22. Treat teachers like the experts and allies they are. Give your child the chance to learn respect; it’s as important a lesson as Algebra 2. Remember how life-‐changing a good relationship with a teacher can be.

23. Praise the process and not the product. Appreciating your child’s persistence and hard work reinforces the skills and habits that lead to success far more than applauding everyday achievements or grades.

24. If you want your child to be prepared to manage his future college workload and responsibilities, take care before you hire a tutor, a private coach, or college application consultant. There’s no room for all of them in to fit in a dorm room.

25. Practice sensible stewardship of your child’s online activities by evaluating her overall maturity level. Keep up with the latest technology and the hottest apps so she doesn’t enter uncharted waters without a skipper.

26. Treat ordinary household chores and paid jobs as more important learning opportunities than jazzy extracurriculars. With experience, your child will develop into an employable (and employed) adult. That said, accept that older children will get chores done on AST (Adolescent Standard Time).
For more info Check out www.wendymogel.com


Get It Right!

My daughter, Shelby is an action sports reporter

Traveling in New Zealand. She has done some great writing on Depression. Shelby shared that The New Zealanders have a great website for young folks, KIWIS who experience depression www.thelowdown.co.nx.


She just challenged us treatment folks to do a site of our own for folks who experience substance abuse and mental health disorders. If any one is interested in helping develop a site like this – let me know.


In Gratititude,