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Best Practices in Interventions for Residential Treatment Placement

Susan Rosovsky

Updated on

Susan Rosovsky LPC, CCADC with ProActive Interventions

Susan Rosovsky
Susan Rosovsky LPC, CCADC

Most people have a strong reaction to the word “intervention.” While the TV show Intervention has done a lot to spread the message that you don’t have to wait for your loved one to die or go to prison before getting them help, it has also led people to believe that the “letter reading” model of intervention is the only model. I debunk the mystery of intervention by explaining:

  • Why I do not use the letter reading model (Johnson Model) of intervention.
  • How I help the families overcome the fear of the unknown and get the help they all deserve.
  • How I have created a more respectful and therapeutic way to intervene that leads to higher, long-term success rates for the entire family.
  • How to identify and interview a professional interventionist.

There are several reasons why I don’t use letter reading (Johnson Model) for intervention:

  • The Johnson Model was developed decades ago and while it was a great skeleton for us to build from, research and clinical knowledge have evolved just like all areas of health care.
  • This model points the finger at the patient rather than getting the entire family invested in their own individual recovery and family system recovery. Addiction and Mental Health problems are a family disease, not an individual issue, particularly with adolescents, financially dependent young adults, and spouses.
  • This model is not appropriate for someone who has experienced sexual trauma. It can re-traumatize by making the patient feel trapped and ashamed. Since we don’t always know if someone has experienced trauma, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Here are some common Q & A’s that help the family move past their fear of the unknown:

Q: “My loved one will be angry and unwilling to talk to you if you show up unannounced.”

A: To date, I have not had anyone unwilling to speak with me at length. When a family contacts me they are in the top 10% of difficult situations or they would not be contacting me. I have the skills to de-escalate people (a lot like hostage negotiation) and build rapport quickly.

Q: “I don’t feel good about deceiving my loved one with an unexpected arrival.”  

A: I answer this in several ways. First of all, we are offering your loved one a precious gift of life. Think of it as a surprise party; they will thank you later on. Also, there is a great quote from Margaret Thatcher; “Don’t let your principles get in the way of doing the right thing.”

Q: “My loved one absolutely will not go!”

A: I have a 100% success rate with adolescents and I have never used restraints or middle of the night ambushes, about a 99% rate of success with financially dependent young adults, and about 90% with all other populations including impaired professionals.

I developed my own style of intervention which I call “Clinical Intervention.” I start by answering questions at no charge so that the family can make an informed decision before proceeding. The family often has a lot of fears around the process and I take my time in helping them understand that it is actually a very loving process that most often even includes some laughter! All my interventions are based on a strong core of rapport and respect for everyone involved.

While each intervention is tailored to the family’s unique needs, here are some general ideas on how it works:

  • It begins with a phone call. I take my time answering all your questions, at no charge, to help you decide if you want to contract my services.
  • We then have a 2-hour meeting with everyone who wants to help the patient but won’t tell the patient we are meeting. I spend this time explaining the details of how the intervention will proceed and preparing the loved ones for their very important roles in the process.
  • I prefer to choose the person the patient is least reactive with to make the “surprise” introduction when possible. Everyone else is waiting nearby and connected by text in case I want to call them in or switch them up. I avoid a roomful of people whenever possible.
  • We schedule a day where I meet the patient and I am prepared to take them straight to treatment that day.
  • This process typically takes a few hours and I often end up speaking with the patient alone so that they can better open up to me.
  • I remain a consultant with the family and treatment program to help guide them to long-term success.

Intervention is the surgery of mental health but unfortunately, there is currently no professional oversight for interventionists. I have heard too many horror stories from families that hired someone who called themselves an interventionist but didn’t have the proper qualifications.

The following are a few ways you can identify and interview a professional interventionist:

  • The interventionist should be willing to answer your questions before asking for a retainer.
  • The interventionist should have at least one licensure. This ensures that they have at least a master’s level education in mental health, they have had a mental health internship period with supervision, they are bound to an ethics board, and they have to complete extensive ongoing education every year. I have both a license in mental health and an internationally recognized license in substance abuse.
  • The interventionist will be able to help you determine if your loved one has co-occurring disorders. Is it substance abuse, psychiatric, or a combination? This is mandatory for determining the proper placement and it requires a highly trained and experienced professional.
  • The interventionist needs to be independent of any treatment facilities. This means no financial relationship between the two. A financial relationship creates ethics conflicts. By remaining independent, the interventionist will only work with quality treatment facilities that are also the best possible selection for your unique needs. One size does not fit all!
  • The interventionist will explain to the family the difference between evidence-based treatment and out-of-date treatment methods.
  • The interventionist should offer the family resources to help them understand how this has impacted them personally and how to heal.
  • The interventionist should have professional materials for you to view, i.e. Website, brochure, business cards, etc. My website provides thorough information and links to see nationwide references, licensure verification, etc.

Susan Rosovsky is a clinically trained interventionist, educator, and high-risk consultant. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Clinically Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor (CCADC), an expert witness for the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Nancy Grace. She maintains the highest professional and ethical standards.

Susan has experience working with adults, adolescents, groups, and families in a wide variety of settings including schools, hospitals, psychiatric treatment facilities, special needs, addiction treatment facilities, impaired professionals, prison, community mental health, private practice, finding missing persons, and high-risk situations.

Susan specializes in helping families with adolescents and young adults that are struggling with substance abuse, mental health, and/or behavioral problems. She tours resources nationwide, applying her clinical knowledge to get to the root of each family’s problems and then guide them to long-term success based on their unique needs.

Susan travels the country extensively in her work but calls Atlanta, GA, home.

Find out more and contact her directly at: www.ProActiveInterventions.com 678-662-1892

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