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A common question people ask me when considering an intervention is “Will the intervention traumatize my loved one?” The short answer is that an intervention, if handled correctly, will not be traumatizing, but healing.

If the intervention is done with intention, love, respect, and the right tools, you can avoid unnecessary drama and move your entire family toward a healthy new beginning. This is why interventions led by a professional have reported an 89% success rate.

I have a 96% success rate and that success is dependent on many factors, including input and help from friends and family. I have been fortunate to work with many amazing families over the past 40 years, providing intervention services across the country. To get a sense of my work, I recommend that you read the Case Studies and Testimonials.

On the other hand, an intervention can turn into a traumatic event for all involved if tempers flare and the intervention evolves into a fight. Though not the most likely outcome, I’ve spoken to some families where this has occurred.

Most of the time, an intervention that is not successful is not traumatizing, but deflating. It’s deflating for the family who wants to see their loved one regain hope, a purpose for life. A failed intervention usually means the loved one has denied that a problem exists and/or resisted help. While it often feels like all hope is lost in these moments, there is always hope.

I encourage you to continue reading to learn more about the unintended consequences of failed interventions, the benefits of professional guidance, the most common types of interventions, and why I choose the invitational approach.

Unintended Consequences

In its simplest form, an intervention is a highly stylized invitation to change in which family and friends gather to invite their loved one to get the help they need. Two common intervention approaches are the surprise method and the invitational approach.

There has always been some degree of controversy over the surprise method, as it can feel like a planned-out ambush. The invitational approach has been seen as more benign, softer and more respectful. The reality is that both approaches can be seen as an ambush, causing anger to rear its ugly head.

Professional Guidance

Professional guidance is often the difference between taking a step towards healthy living instead of taking a step backward, where everyone retreats into their own corner, digs in, and regresses.

At best, participants bathe the identified patient in a sea of love while also sharing in a compassionate, non-judgmental way the recent incidents that scare and alarm them. Common examples of alarming behavior include:

  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Dropping out of school
  • Missing work
  • Driving under the influence
  • Arrest

The reality is that interventions can be intense and drudge up raw emotions for everyone involved. Those emotions sometimes spill over in unfortunate ways that can negatively affect not only the love one but the entire family.

The person at the center of the intervention may become furious that loved ones have gathered together and are daring to expose his or her demons.

It is imperative for all participants to believe in the process and to believe change is possible.

The Invitational Approach

I prefer an invitational approach so that there are no surprises when organizing a meeting. I start by having my clients share that they have a problem at home that is bigger than they can solve. We then have a family meeting. In doing so, that will diminish the elements of surprise and open the door to compassion.

The interventionist must guide participants carefully as the goal is to help the person go to treatment and not tear them apart with judgment. This is not a trial and there are no judges. If there are folks in the intervention who also can be singled out for having an alcohol or other drug problem, they are encouraged to share.

Trauma and Addiction

It is common during the intervention or rehab process for individuals to discover that past traumas are part of the reason for an addiction. Drugs may offer a temporary escape, or at least numbness to, past experiences that have not been fully processed.

Understanding Trauma

Trauma can be both subjective and objective. Subjective means that the person experiencing the trauma may feel like they are not good enough, smart enough, etc. The trauma may have started with being humiliated, shamed, bullied, embarrassed and grew from there.

As such, the person may replay images and memories in their head: being told they were stupid or not good enough, “if only I could of stopped my parent from killing himself” or “what could I have done better to not get fired, how could I have stopped.”

Though trauma is unique to each individual, the experience may have both an objective & subjective dimension. Some examples of an objective dimension include:

  • Being witness to a crime
  • Experiencing a national weather disaster
  • Surviving a mass shooting
  • Watching a fellow soldier be shot
  • Being injured in combat
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual assault

Not all folks respond in the same way to either objective or subjective occurrences. It has been found that people who have been exposed to 4 or more objective or subjective events may well experience PTSD, reports Larke Huang for SAMSHA.

How Trauma Impacts Interventions

During an intervention, it’s important to note that all are wounded — including family, friends and the ILO or ‘Identified Loved One’.

All of the participants feel some degree of inadequate, embarrassed, humiliated, bullied or shamed because they failed in getting their loved one’s attention — or because too often they looked the other way.

How a professional approaches their client and their family will ultimately become an imprint on their hearts and minds. Mrs. Betty Ford, a pioneer of recovery treatment, was intervened while she was still in her robe and nightgown and was not given the dignity of being dressed. As a leader in the field she made sure all were treated with respect, no smack-downs or lock downs.

Everyone wants and deserves to be treated with love, compassion, directness, and respect. Combine these with determination and you can bring real change to your loved one’s life and your entire family.

Are you ready to take the first step? There’s no cost and no commitment required. I have a 96% rate of getting people the help they need. Contact me today and learn how to reclaim a healthy life for yourself or a loved one today. 

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