10 Things to Ask an Interventionist Before Hiring

interventionistIn 2011, there were 5.1 million emergency department visits in the United States that could be attributed to drugs, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. Sometimes, these medical emergencies provide a wakeup call to addicted people, and they move right from the hospital gurney to the addiction treatment center to get the help they’ll need in order to get well. There are times, however, when addicted people don’t seem to ever hit bottom, and they refuse to see the reality of an addiction. An intervention can provide that clarion call of sanity, helping to stop the cycle of addiction and allow the whole family to heal. It’s a wonderful opportunity, and often, interventionists are needed in order to ensure that the conversation moves forward as planned. These 10 questions can help families to make an informed choice when they’re interviewing interventionists.

1. What Kind of Intervention Would You Recommend, and Why?

This question can help families look for a professional who can hold the type of intervention that seems right for the addicted person and the family, as there are many different intervention types available, including:

Some models utilize surprise, allowing the family to shock an addicted person with well-crafted statements designed to persuade and motivate. Other models are invitational, allowing the impacted person to participate in educational sessions with the interventionist. Some interventionists have training in a variety of different models, and they tailor the method they use based on the needs of the family. Others feel that one method is superior, and this is the only technique they recommend.

question2. What Is Your Educational Background?

Some interventionists hold degrees in counseling and psychology, and they might be able to utilize this education to give families insight into the biochemical and physiological underpinnings of an addiction. Other interventionists draw upon their own personal experiences, and they allow their personal stories of addiction and recovery to infuse the work they do on a daily basis. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but families with strong preferences about the expertise of the professional they choose may find this question illuminating.

3. Are You Licensed, or Do You Hold a Special Intervention Certification?

For many years, there were no certification agencies for those who performed interventions. In 2005, the Association of Intervention Specialists intervened and developed a framework for certification for the industry. Now, there are several organizations that provide some level of certification for people who want to work with addicted families, and those who have obtained certifications are often happy to discuss what titles they hold and the steps they had to take to achieve this certification. Again, there are no right and wrong answers to this question, but families who would like the reassurance of formal training might feel as though the answer to this question is vital.

4. Have You Worked With Similar Families in the Past?

Each addict and each addiction is a little different, but often, families dealing with the same type of addiction or mental health issue have several things in common. For example, a study in Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention found that spouses of sex addicts often felt:

  • Hurt
  • Betrayed
  • Rejected
  • Abandoned
  • Devastated
  • Lonely
  • Ashamed
  • Isolated
  • Humiliated
  • Jealous
  • Angry

Very specific feelings like this are easier to deal with if the mental health professional has addressed them in the past. Finding out if the interventionist has dealt with similar issues and similar families could help the group to avoid explaining their needs unnecessarily.

professional interventionist5. If the Intervention Fails, Can You Help the Family Move Forward

Often, an intervention results in a breakthrough and the person agrees to get care when the conversation is through. There are times, however, when the denial is so strong and the addiction is so persistent that the person simply cannot see the truth. People like this may leave interventions before they are complete, or they may listen politely but never agree to do anything as a result. It’s a difficult problem, as the family is still in pain and the family still needs solutions, no matter what the addicted person might choose to do. Some interventionists provide continuing care that can address this issue, counseling the family and perhaps holding another intervention at a later date. But not all interventionists provide this service.

6. If the Intervention Succeeds, Will You Transport the Person to Care?

In the moments immediately following an intervention, the addicted person is highly motivated to make a change and stick with the program the family has outlined. The moments that follow could be dangerous, however, if the addicted person leaves the conversation and has time alone. A relapse could occur, or the comments could simply fade away into the mists of memory. Interventionists can help by agreeing to transport the person to the treatment program. As soon as the intervention is over, the group leaves and no gap that could lead to a relapse is left in place. Some families might not need this service, but those who do may want to ensure that the professional they hire is willing to do this work.

woman with teen7. Do You Stay Involved After the Intervention? How?

Interventions have the capacity to turn the tide and make life both different and better for the person in need. For example, a study in the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews suggests that family interventions for schizophrenia lead to fewer relapses, when compared to interventions that leave the family intact and treat only the person with the mental illness. It remains true, however, that people with mental illnesses and/or addictions have serious conditions that could be considered chronic in nature. A brief blast of therapy may not be enough to turn the tide. Interventionists may offer followup services that could help, including:

  • Family counseling
  • Individual case management
  • Individual therapy
  • Repeat interventions, as needed

It’s important to outline these services at the outset, so families will know just what to do, should things go awry.

8. What Are Your Fees?

Some interventionists charge by the hour, while others levy flat fees per service. Interventionists might also charge room-and-board fees for out-of-town work. Since these charges are rarely covered by insurance, it’s best to hammer out the details before the intervention is scheduled.

sober living homes9. When Are You Available?

Interventionists can have busy schedules that take them all over the world, helping families, educating professionals and attending educational seminars. Families who need to hold an intervention may want to plan that talk right away, and the date chosen may conflict with the interventionist’s schedule. Before deciding on a specific professional, it’s best to ensure that person is available to perform the work the family needs in a timely manner.

10. What Treatment Facilities Are You Familiar With?

Some families spend time interviewing administrators at treatment facilities before they hire an interventionist, so they already know where they’d like the loved one to get care. Other families may have no clue about how to conduct a search, and they may need to lean on the expertise of an interventionist in order to make the right choice. Some interventionists are aware of many different treatment facilities, and they scour the nation in order to keep up on the latest developments. Others develop tight-knit relationships with just a few facilities, and they can speak at length about the treatment types and staff members of the facilities they work with. This question allows families to determine where their professional falls along this spectrum.

When you’re ready to start your search, we’re here to help. We have a large database of professional interventionists and family mediators to choose from, and we’re adept at matching clients with the right professional who can help. Just call us to find out more.

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