Of the several things that need to be considered, the first is always the issue of urgency and safety. If you are responding to a crisis, the intervention approach you choose will reflect that urgency. Immediately address the crisis and ensure everyone safety. Family education and future plans can come later.

However, if you are dealing with a chronic problem the classic, the family systems, or a blend of these approaches are available to you.

Your decision on how to proceed will depend on several factors including what your family members are prepared to do, on their geographic dispersion and to a great extent on the orientation of the interventionist you find to help you.

Discuss with the interventionist the most realistic and practical approach to take given the thoughts, feelings and location of the family members.

Remember, an intervention is often a highly charged emotional experience and the family needs to be working with someone they trust. In theory all of the intervention orientations work.

However, most interventionists have developed a personalized approach that leans to one form or the other. Look for someone whose approach makes sense to you. Choose someone you can trust and then let them help you.

What can my family expect in the long run from doing an intervention?

A new dance.

Think of a family’s interactions as a choreographed dance. Everything they do and say to each other has been perfected by hours of rehearsal. Each member recognizes their cues and executes their steps without thinking – day after day after day.

Imagine the dancers circling around one member’s drinking problem. Everyone knows the moves by heart, even the drinker. And although everyone hates the dance, no one can imagine how to stop doing what they are doing. In fact wanting to stop has become a part of the dance. Guilt and suffering are also written in. The family could go on like this forever.

An intervention is a controlled or choreographed crisis. The dance, business-as-usual behavior of the drinker and family, is stopped for a long enough time to get everyone’s attention.

One day a group of the dancers stand still when they would normally being turning somersaults. At that moment everything changes in the family.

Although the transition is not always smooth and some dancers may bump into each other at first, the important thing is that the dance is brought to a stop; the drinker has no one left to do the old steps with. And at long last the family has the drinker’s complete attention.

It now becomes possible for a different dance to begin.

An intervention changes the dance.