Why Do You Need a Professional Interventionist?

It’s a little different than the TV Show

We’ve all seen the shows on TV. They spend all of their time following an addict in the middle of their addiction and an incredibly short amount of time on what they are going to do to help them. The process of an actual intervention is very short, lasting about an hour and you have your answer.

But on TV, we don’t see the steps leading up to the intervention, the pre-intervention, and we just kind of walk into an intervention where people are talking. In reality, friends and loved ones invest a lot of time and effort into preparing for the intervention, similar to how actors and musicians labor for hours rehearsing and planning for the final performance.

So what happens during the pre-intervention?


In the pre-intervention we talk about who is going to speak, the order and why. We also discuss what each person is going to talk about. Each person should prepare a couple statements for the intervention. An intervention has three statements:

  1. A statement about how you’ve seen the addiction affecting the life of the person with the disease of addiction. You have seen the addiction change your loved one’s life, but they are living it and don’t often realize how far they have fallen.
  2. A statement about how you have personally been affected, not what you’ve heard, but how you personally have been affected. This is different for everyone in the family. What each person says will depend on their interaction with the family member or friend they’re intervening on.
  3. What will happen if the person with the disease does not choose their help today? This third statement doesn’t really need to be used unless we’ve exhausted all other avenues. Most of my interventions don’t use the third statement, but there has to be a bottom line.

For instance, if I have a son who is using the money I gave him towards drugs then I do not want to enable my son. I’ll tell him that if you’re not going to accept help today that I’m forced into the position of removing my financial help. Substance abuse could potentially lead to his death and I don’t want my fingerprints on it.

What if they refuse treatment?

The three statements are part of the one hour intervention. There is also going to be a point in time in the intervention where the interventionist asks “Are you willing to accept the love and help of your family today?” This is the ultimate “yes or no” question. That’s not the end of the intervention. In my experience most people will say “No”—even if they want to go. This is because they’ve become conditioned to defending themselves.

“When people say no, that’s where a professional interventionist helps.”

A professional can keep the intervention focused and avoid talking in circles. They can keep things calm and make sure everybody stays on task.

During an intervention I am looking for things like: who has an emotional effect on the person we are intervening on, and I may ask them to say something during the first 10 to 20 minutes because I have seen a connection. That 10 or 20 minutes is a very important time, but it is also only 10 or 20 minutes! Part of my role is knowing when we are going around in circles and then it may be time to pull out the third statement.

Again, this may be another “no” moment—but we haven’t lost yet. The important thing to know about an intervention is that there are multiple stages going on within the intervention that a professional or someone with a lot of experience is watching for.

“What you’re paying an interventionist for is the experience, knowledge and training to know how the stages are moving along and to move them along as needed.”

I have stopped interventions because I knew the person would go and simply said “are you ready to go?” I have decided within an intervention that maybe someone in the room might not be a good person to talk based upon what’s taking place.

Professionals have the experience to know when someone is ready to accept help. Knowing when to ask is crucial and doing so at the wrong time can impact the effectiveness of your intervention. Your loved one may want treatment, but if the timing of your question is off they will continue to say no.

Getting to Treatment

It is also important that you have an idea of where your loved one should go for treatment. Family and friends should work with their interventionist to find the right treatment center for their loved one.

Bryan Bowen has 15 years of experience as an interventionist and is Nationally Board certified. He is the founder and CEO of 1st Step Interventions. To find more information about interventions or how an interventionist can help your family today, visit1ststepinterventions.com or call 707-559-5146.