pat kelly interventionist
intervention information
goal of intervention
I have worked in the field of intervention for more than 15 years and have seen patients and their families learn about the seriousness of the disease. Watching their lives change as a result of my work has richly rewarded me. Before continuing, I thought it would be useful to recap what an intervention is.
An intervention is a process utilized to interrupt the harmful, progressive and destructive effects of chemical dependency and help the chemically dependent person to permanently stop using any mood-altering chemical. An individual who is chemically dependent has shielded their self with barriers of denial to keep from dealing with the debilitating truth about their disease. The goal of an intervention is to break down those defenses.
Upon being contacted by the family or employer of the patient, I arrange a meeting with the people who will be involved. We discuss what has happened to the family or job as a result of the patient's addiction. We discuss what the consequences will be if the patient refuses help. Every intervention is different and the consequences are as unique as the individuals involved.
During that initial meeting, I usually script out what the family will say to the patient. This includes telling the patient about the good qualities and how much the family cares. If there is a person financially supporting the patient or enabling in any other manner, they are told to stop. This may include the employer telling the patient they cannot return to work until they seek some form of treatment.
I typically script out where everyone will sit and who will speak first and who will speak last. I prefer a living room type setting with a sofa and surrounding chairs. I will have the patient sit in the middle of the sofa with the family members sitting on both sides and other members sitting in the chairs. I generally request that young children not be included in the intervention. This is to allow the adults to speak freely, and preclude the children from feeling that it is some how their fault for all these people "picking on Mommy or Daddy"
We further discuss strategies of what to do in case the patient should decide to go out for a walk. Who should go after them and what they should say to the patient. I prefer to have two people ready to follow them. To say to them that it's okay and that all we want is fifteen minutes of their time. In my 15 years of experience I've had only two people walk out. Both, however, returned. I have experienced some patients entering the room and immediately start crying, ready to go into treatment. If, however, the patient is unwilling to go for treatment immediately, I never close the door of opportunity to them. Rather, I say that "we are here for you 24 hours a day. When you are ready to go we will take you where you can get help. It is, however, in your best interest and the best interests of your family that you go now."
If the patient is ready to go into treatment, I still have the family say what they had planned. This is to reinforce into the patient the seriousness of their disease and how it has affected the family. If a family member wants to say something in a negative or non-productive manner, I discuss ways in which they can say it in a positive manner. The initial meeting with the family typically lasts about two to three hours. If any follow-up sessions are required, they are discussed at that time.
Prior to performing the intervention, I have contacted and arranged for a facility which the patient can go to immediately. If in my observation the patient appears severely emaciated or otherwise seriously ill, I will suggest the patient go to a hospital first. Financial arrangements are also coordinated prior to the intervention which includes verifying insurance coverage. If the insurance and/or other funds are not readily available, I will arrange for low or no cost facilities the patient can go to.
Recently, I've started taking rapid drug test kits with me. They work in much the same manner as a home pregnancy test and take three to five minutes to get results. This tool helps eliminate any arguments that may arise as a result of the patient saying they are not presently using alcohol or drugs.
Interventions can be stressful and traumatic for both the patient and the family. They can also be destructive and counter productive if not properly planned and coordinated. I therefore always recommend that you use a trained professional to assist you in the intervention.
Pat Kelly is well known in her field as a C.A.T.S. Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist and Interventionist in California.  In addition she has years of experience with patient intake and admissions procedures in hospitals and treatment centers.  Pat is available for both interventions and lectures.  She has given intake training seminars to hospitals, treatment centers and groups for CEU's. She can be reached at (714) 883-4934 or by e-mail at