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What is a Professional Intervention?

By Janis Bennett
Updated Jan 28, 2024
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A professional intervention is when a group of family members and friends hire a specially trained counselor to lead them in a meeting to confront a person who is battling a problem such as an addiction or mental illness. A professional intervention is held in a controlled environment, such as the subject’s place of employment. The purpose of the intervention is to get the addict, or the person battling mental illness, to agree to get help in a rehabilitation treatment center.

An interventionist is a substance abuse counselor or a metal health counselor who has special training to facilitate an intervention. These professionals are trained to deal with the extreme emotional distress that comes with being an addict. Having a trained and knowledgeable person lead an intervention will help both the addict and the family members through the process. An intervention can be held without a counselor, but it might be more successful and less stressful if one is used.

The family might meet with the interventionist several times to plan the professional intervention. Not only will a time and location be agreed upon, counseling also usually is provided to help the family members get through the process. The interventionist also will advise the family on what to expect during the professional intervention.

An intervention often is a surprise. In these cases, the subject is not aware of the situation, is caught off-guard and often feels ambushed at the event. The start of therapy and rehabilitation might be compromised when the addict has these types of feelings right from the start. To avoid these situations, some interventionists notify the addict in advance in order to reduce stress and improve the success of the meeting. A professional intervention usually is held in controlled setting where the addict is more likely to listen to family members and friends confronting him or her and where the addict will not be as likely to act out maliciously.

During the professional intervention, the interventionist will lead the meeting as each family member talks to the subject about topics such as how much he or she is loved and how the family wants to see him or her have a happier and healthier life. Sometimes, family members will read letters that they wrote to the addict prior to the professional intervention, and others will speak about what they are feeling at the moment. The addict will be given the choice to get help or all ties with the family and friends will be broken. Usually, help is received at a live-in rehabilitation center where the subject is monitored continuously by staff members and must attend several types of therapy sessions each day. In the ideal intervention setting, the addict leaves the meeting and goes directly to the rehabilitation treatment center.

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