All About Interventions, Silver Bell Coaching. Facilitated interventions, Performed safe transports.
Brad Lamm BreakFree Interventions
Ed Storti, mentor and supervisor
Dr. Louise Stanger, supervisor
Bill Ryan, mentor
Style of Intervention
The primary modality of intervention I have found to be most effective is an evidence based motivational approach. Motivation Intervention was taught to me by my first mentor, Ed Storti of The Storti Model. Aside from inquiry and assessment, the primary focus is on preparation, intervention, and follow-up. It is motivational, not clinical. The intervention, or more appropriately termed an “Invitation to Change” is designed to be positive. In my experience there have been several times where I opted not to use the word intervention. Many families prefer “family meeting” or “in-home consultation.” It makes little difference to me what the process is called for I have the same objective in mind: get the ILO to accept help and enter treatment…today. The invitation is presented as a gift rather than a consequence. The approach makes use of love and respect as opposed to force. My aim is to always honor the individual, and one hundred percent of the time, my goal is to keep the invitation positive – no blaming or shaming. I encourage all those involved to speak from their heart, for or it is my belief that what comes from the heart goes to the heart. The best interventions are conducted from the heart and not the head.
The invitation is to be conducted with dignity and love. Love being the best form of leverage. It is equally vital for all those involved to work as a united front – delivering the same message. Personally, I have found that a majority of the work is done in the preparation.
I have used the Johnson Model as well as The Invitational Model, and in my experience, both can be quite effective. I have also conducted a hybrid of the two. My overall preference is the Invitational Model, which was introduced and taught to me by my current mentor and supervisor, Dr. Louise Stanger, of All About Interventions. I prefer this modality because it eliminates the element of surprise. I find that if the ILO is informed, there is a certain amount of “buy in” already established.
During my preparation, I begin the process by interviewing the family. I try and be a good detective or sleuth. Then I proceed to create a family map or genome. Here I can begin to piece together the relationships, past and present. Is there a history of abuse, trauma or addiction? In many cases, one, if not all, are true. I or a team member will interview friends and/or co-workers to ask the same questions: what have you seen that has caused you concern? I want eyewitness reports. Again, specificity is key. This is often a good time for me to share some education of the disease model of addiction. The formula remains the same. At this stage I will also discuss choices of a treatment facility. I like to offer up three choices. I inform the family, ethically, I have zero ties to any one facility. I suggest they call and vet them for themselves. If possible, I strongly suggest that those making the final decision schedule a tour of the chosen treatment center. I will provide them with a contact person or an intake counselor at all three facilities. Once I have concluded the interview process, I will assemble the family intervention team. In doing so, I ask myself whom will be most effective in reaching the ILO. Often times, I have found an outlier among the group to be the one to hold the most sway. This could be a former baseball coach or dance teacher, or a favorite aunt or uncle. Again, the majority of the work or heavy lifting is done in the prep. I have a degree in Theater Arts, and I often think of the pre-intervention to be the rehearsal. If enough time and effort are put into the rehearsal then the performance will go off well.
In the pre-intervention portion, which is usually held the day prior, I direct the family intervention team to convey their hurts, hopes, and fears and to act as eyewitnesses to the behavior they have seen. Be specific to what has made their heart hurt. I encourage them all to speak to me from a raw place of vulnerability. The more raw, the better. In advance, the participants are asked to write a few paragraphs down about the ILO. These are to be thought of as letters of encouragement. Again, not to blame or shame, but to put an emphasis on their hopes and fears for their loved one. I will work with the group to edit and often pare down their letters. I invite them to remember a time when their loved one was thriving. It could be a time when they were doing well in school or business. Perhaps it was a summer or winter vacation with their family when they were engaged and showing up for life. Not all of the these letters will be read, however, all will accompany the ILO to treatment. If for any reason someone from the group can not attend, then I have them write a letter. I can read this letter to the ILO. I have learned from Dr. Stanger to read these letters slowly and to make frequent eye contact with the ILO. She is masterful in this way. I instruct the group to keep their paragraphs on the shorter side. I would prefer them to be looking at the ILO when they speak and not have their faces buried in their paper. I do not keep any tissues around. If tears come, so be it. I welcome the emotion. At no time do we want arguments or shouting matches to be a part of the process. We want to appeal to their heart, not their head.
During the invitation, close attention is paid to all details. Before the process begins I like to identify a “diffuser” in the group. This would be a family team member designated to follow the ILO out of the room should they decide to walk out abruptly. The physical placement of the members is key, as well as, the order of those chosen to speak. I go in with a general idea or plan of how I see the invitation going, however, I also have learned to remain flexible in case I need to adjust on the fly. There have been instances where, after the first person spoke, the ILO has agreed to enter treatment. In such a case, there is no need to continue with the reading of letters. This is where I would collect the remaining letters and give to ILO to read on the way to, or when they are in, treatment.
Assuming all goes well and the ILO makes the decision to accept help and enter treatment, we have bags packed, travel arrangements made, and a safe transport person to accompany the ILO to the designated treatment facility. Another function of the individual doing the transport is to encourage the ILO to sign a ROI (Release of Information) for myself and any other appointed members of the family intervention team. This allows me to monitor progress and ensure that the ILO is doing the work needed to grow in their recovery.
If the ILO does not accept help during the invitation, experience shows they usually come around in very short order. I always go in saving the “bottom line” consequences till the very end. Truthfully speaking, I have not had to resort to these but on a few occasions. If it comes to this, the most important thing is that said consequences be held firmly. There should be no deviating. If this happens it is counter productive and returns the power back to the ILO; effectively undoing all the work previously done. There is no failure in intervening. The only failure is the failure to act. I remind the family and loved ones that if in fact there was a crisis or death, they would have the experience of knowing they took the action to help their loved one. And if the ILO does not go on the day, a seed has been planted. Life can not go back to business as usual with the friends and family. This is the time to implement “tough love.” Often in this scenario the family will look to me to coach them in next steps. Boundaries are not meant to be punitive; I encourage them to hold the line.
Post intervention, I will typically do a 90 day engagement. This keeps me available to the family. I stay in touch with the treatment center to receive updates and remain involved when it comes to things such as family week and an aftercare program. Experience shows the family will take comfort in knowing I remain available to them for a period of time. More than anything else, I strongly invite the family/friends to continue to work on themselves. For many, this is where Alanon or other support groups can be extremely beneficial. The ILO should not be the only one doing the work. By having the rest of the group digging and do some work, it sends a message to the ILO they are all in this together.
Types of Intervention
Alcohol, Substance Use Disorder, Sexual Trauma, Gambling, Co-Dependency, Digital.
Able to travel and serve World Wide.