Credit: Addiction Blog

Credit: Addiction Blog

In  a recent interview with Addiction Blog on intervention strategies for families, I was asked to explain family intervention models, what treatment strategies they use, and how family members can prepare themselves before the intervention. Through this Q&A, I hope you’re able to learn more about possible options, and discern best practice in intervention from strategies you want to avoid.

ADDICTION BLOG: How many types of family intervention models are currently in practice?

LOUISE STANGER: There are several intervention models which can best be categorized as Surprise, Systemic, Action and Invitational.

The Surprise model was first developed by Dr. Vern Johnson, the grandfather of Intervention, and is described in his landmark book “I’ll Quit Tomorrow – A Practical Guide To Alcoholism Treatment”. Since then, this model has been expanded upon by Dr. Frank Picard, author of “Family Intervention”, Debra and Jeff Jay authors of “Love First”, Ken Seeley who was instrumental in starting the TV Show “Intervention”, John Southworth and Ed Storti, author of “Heart to Heart” among other books.

The Systematic Family Systems Model was introduced by Wayne Raiter Ph.D., while the Action Intervention Model technique is credited to Jean Campell LCSW, Dr. Jim Tracey, and Bill Maher, which uses strategies from psychodrama.

The Invitational Model of interventions surfaces from the Arise Model developed by Dr. Judith Landau and James Garret authors of “Invitational Intervention: A Step by Step guide for Clinicians Helping Families Engage Resistant Substance Abusers” and the BreakFree Model, “How To Help The One You Love” and other books which Brad Lamm has authored, and with whom I am co-facilitating his BreakFree Trainings this Fall, 2015.

ADDICTION BLOG: What are some of the main, evidence based family intervention models in use?

LOUISE STANGER: The strategies used in all models to some degree involve an understanding of:

  • family systems theory
  • human behavior and lifestyle development
  • mental health disorders
  • characteristics of substance abuse disorders
  • characteristics of process disorders

These models also require an understanding of 12-step facilitation, motivational interviewing, and solution-focused therapy from both the therapeutic and business research communities.

From my experience as a principal investigator for both NIH – NIAAA and U.S. Department of Education college-based interventions and family-based intervention studies, there has not been a major university or federal grant which test outs any one-intervention model. That being stated, the strategies mentioned above have been tested in a variety of clinical trials including and not limited to motivational interviewing, which has a robust history in hospital, college and prison and religious settings. In addition, there are evidence-based studies which examine cognitive behavioral and 12 Step facilitation, solution-focused therapy, psychodrama, mindfulness, and more in clinical settings.

ADDICTION BLOG: What type of model do you use and why? How does this preferred model differ from the others?

LOUISE STANGER: I believe that interventions are a process and not any one model, however I am invitational in my family systems approach.

In contrast to many intervention styles, with the Stanger Process, I am committed to helping intervention teams – which I call “accountability teams” consisting of:

  • family
  • friends
  • business acquaintances
  • personal assistants
  • hairdressers
  • employers

…and anyone who has an interest in and cares for the identified loved one to become healthier and stronger. We help each member of the team develop and practice self-care, setting clear boundaries. I believe each member of the intervention team will feel challenged to love your loved one and yourselves from a very deep place, and that no one will remain unchanged after our time together.

I have an 11-step process which – at best – yields a total team solution. My intervention approach is 11 steps divided into three-phases, all based on sound social work principles of starting where the client is – at the beginning and working from the foundation of unconditional positive regard. I work with families so they may understand their role in the intervention process, which is a systemic approach to healing the entire team. Together, treatment options are explored, and arrangements are made for your loved one to accept the treatment being offered.

I use a particular qualitative research methodology called Portraiture which was developed by the Harvard endowed scholar Sara Lawrence Lightfoot who is best known for her seminal works, “The Art and Science of Portraiture, Lives and Loss of Liberation”.

In addition, I utilize evidence-based approaches that includes qualitative research interview methodology called Portraiture, Cognitive Behavioral, Motivational Interviewing, Solution-Focused, 12-Step, and Mindfulness Modalities within an invitational Team-Systems framework.

I also offer a guarantee to the families that work with me. I guarantee that everyone participating in the intervention process will learn more about substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, and how these disorders affect people in general, as well as their specific family situation.

I guarantee that your family and loved ones will uncover the hidden stories around the addiction and their loved one, creating a more accurate picture of reality. Everyone will experience relief working toward a common goal, together.