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Is it "Go Time?" How do you know when to call in an interventionist?

This is a guest post from interventionist and family counselor Ricki Townsend,. Ricki volunteers to lead Clean & Sober Recovery Services' FREE and confidential family support meetings. Call us at (916) 990-0190 to learn more.

As an interventionist and family counselor, I’ve frequently been asked how to do an intervention and when to do an intervention. Here’s the answer, in a nutshell: An intervention comes about when a family has tried everything and is at the end of their rope. They have exhausted every approach: crying, screaming, watching like a hawk, grounding teens or even leaving their spouse for a while. They may have also had their fill of visits to the Emergency Room and have perhaps even witnessed a close call from an overdose. They are exhausted, and they are becoming depleted – physically, mentally and emotionally — much like their beloved addict. Finally, they call out for help, most likely because another crisis is on the doorstep or just around the corner.

When that time comes, the healthiest and most successful approach would be to work with a board-registered interventionist. It is important for families to work with a professional interventionist who is not acquainted with the “addicted loved one” because the therapeutic relationship needs to be objective in order to be successful. There needs to be detachment from persons and personalities.

It is also critical to use a board-registered interventionist who has been trained in many elements of the intervention process. A board-registered interventionist should possess the range of expertise and experience to keep the calm in the room and be able to handle any situation that arises.

An interventionist will work with the family before and after the actual intervention, including selecting a treatment center based on the loved one’s needs. Some families need a rehab nearby; others need one far, far away. Some teens need intense, long-term treatment in a wilderness camp setting. Some parents need to go to a treatment center to disengage from their own destructive co-dependency and enabling. How do you know what your family needs to get healthy? That is why you call in a professional to determine what the family needs, rather than take matters into your own hands.

Ricki Townsend, BRI-1, CAS, RAS

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