Interventions – A Structured Plan for Help

Perhaps you are a parent that is exasperated with having to see your son high regularly or a partner that is devastated that your loved one is choosing to spend more time at the casino rather than with you. Or perhaps you are someone feeling helpless as you watch your friend succumb to an eating disorder. These are but a few examples of people who are distraught over a loved one’s choices and who may benefit from an intervention. This month’s blog details the ins and outs of an increasingly popular therapeutic strategy known as an “Intervention”.

There are two different forms of Interventions that can be performed: indirect and direct. A direct intervention involves a group of people (typically family and friends) coming together and confronting someone about the unhealthy choices he/she is making. The process involves fostering collaboration between the family/friends and the individual without the guilt and blame that often prevents people from seeking help. An indirect intervention is similar, however, the targeted individual is not present. The purpose of this type of intervention is to allow participants an opportunity to share and discuss how the individual’s actions have negatively affected his/ her own life and to come together to create clear boundaries and limits moving forward.

Issues addressed in interventions vary. They do, however, tend to be severe in nature and affect multiple people. Examples include serious drug use, compulsive gambling, alcoholism, eating disorders, as well as excessive computer, television, pornography or video game usage. These issues significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to function and negatively impact relationships.

So, what are the benefits of an intervention? Well, the obvious answer is to motivate a loved one to seek help and enter treatment/rehab/counselling. Through family and friends confronting the individual, denial of the problem is often overcome motivating the individual to contemplate change. Another benefit of an intervention, that people sometime overlook, is that friends and family get an opportunity to express themselves. For some this allows relief from the pain, anger, and resentment. Being able to say what you have been waiting to say for perhaps years can be both cleansing and freeing. This is an especially significant outcome when involved in an indirect intervention where the person is not ready, willing or able to attend. Another benefit includes participants receiving support in establishing clearer boundaries and limits thereby creating consistency between all parties.

It can be devastating seeing a loved one succumb to unhealthy, self-sabotaging, patterns. It takes strength and courage to recognize when “enough is enough” and seek support. Although, there are many alternative options interventions provide a concrete, structured strategy to help break the cycle of abuse and restore diminished hope.

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