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The Clinic on Dupont Toronto

Intervention Process

What is an intervention?

At an intervention, family members and friends come together to address the concerning behaviour of a loved one. This behaviour could be related to alcohol, drugs, or any other self-destructive behaviour. The supportive process of an intervention addresses the harmful effects of the individual’s actions, as described by family and friends in their impact letters. It also provides a pathway out of these destructive behavioural patterns, by establishing consequences and boundaries that will be implemented if the loved one does not choose the recommended treatment options.

What is the goal of an intervention?

The goal of an intervention is to create an immediate “bottom” for the identified person.  In essence, the process is intended to create consequences for the individual if he or she does not choose the treatment that is being recommended by the family and the intervention professional.

addiction clinic toronto

PATRICIA SPENS, M.Sc., C.Psych.

Stress, Depression, Addictions, Codependency, Couples, Families

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Initial Session: Time (1-3 Hours)

It is essential that all people who will be a part of the intervention be at the initial meeting. It is important for all concerned individuals to have an understanding of the process and to agree on the procedures used.

  1. The clinician explains the intervention process in detail. This will include costs associated with all aspects of the intervention. Expectations from both the family members as well as the clinician will be discussed.
  2. The clinician will gather all relevant clinical information regarding the concerned individual as well as the family dynamics. It is important that as much information be obtained as possible in order to appropriately assess underlying issues.
  3. The two essential elements of the intervention process are the impact letters and consequences and/or boundaries imposed by family members. The letters are intended to describe the impact that the individual’s behavior has had on them. The clinician will review the importance of the letter writing process and describe what kind of information needs to be included in the letters that will be read during the pre-intervention.  The clinician will help produce the letters if needed. The second element is the idea of boundaries and consequences.  The clinician will discuss in detail the importance of the consequences that will be imposed if the person does not choose the treatment options that are recommended and give suggestions for the family members to think about what they might be able to implement. Consequences are used to help create the ‘bottom’ that many struggling individuals may need to make a choice to seek appropriate help.

Session 2: Pre-Intervention: Time (1-3 hours)

The essential part of the pre-intervention is to prepare all concerned individuals for the intervention. It is meant as a time to work through any issues that have blocked or are blocking individuals from implementing boundaries for the identified individual.

  1. Update- the clinician will obtain any additional information that has occurred since the initial meeting.
  2. The clinician will review the letters written with everyone that is present and offer suggestions if needed.
  3. Appropriate boundaries and consequences of behavior will be discussed as well.
  4. The plan of how the intervention will take place will be developed.

Session 3: The Intervention (1-3 hours)

  1. The clinician will introduce herself to the identified individual and describe the purpose of the meeting and the process.
  2. The family members will read their letters.
  3. The individual will be asked if they would go into the specified treatment that has been recommended for them.
  4. If the individual says yes, they will be told the expectation regarding treatment and consequences for leaving treatment early. Our aim is to have the individuals leave for treatment immediately after the meeting. We will escort them if needed.
  5. If the individual says no, the consequences and boundaries that have been decided on will be discussed with the individual. This is a very difficult time for family members, as they will be changing how they respond to the individual. Many times this discussion results in the individual changing their mind and accepting treatment.
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