Having children at interventions

Watch Video: Having children at interventions by Louise Stanger, Ed.D, LCSW, BRI-II, CIP, ...
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Having children at interventions

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A child should be part of an intervention of a parent when the other parent is comfortable. That being said, I have had in an intervention setting a child as young as 5. Let me be very clear with you. Your child is more honest and knows more about what’s going on with mommy and daddy than you, the first caller, care to admit. I remember flying to London to intervene on a beautiful-beautiful mother. And the impetus for this phone call from a kindergarten teacher. But this 5-year-old knew mommy was sick, knew mommy wasn’t okay. In fact, mommy’s only friend at that time was her little boy and her bottles. And when I went to her home, I think I’ll never forget this home. Her bedroom was – it’s cold in England – and the bedroom was covered with sweaters. Building a fence. And inside this fence were bottles, empty wine bottles. And inside this fence made with heavy woolen sweaters was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. I don’t know a parent who hasn’t read that book to one of their children. And in this intervention, and you have to be really careful how and when you use a child. And what he needed to say was, “mommy, I want you not to smell bad. I know you’re sick. Can you get help?” Recently a 13- and 16-year-old daughter needed to tell their mom who they love and was frightened to leave the house for 2 months, who if I looked at their family history there was so much mental health disorder. I thought it was a miracle they were all there, how resilient they all are, because we work with very resilient families. They had to say, “mom, don’t come near me. I cannot be with you.” This mom couldn’t brush her daughter’s hair or make it into a ponytail. She couldn’t even clean. She was in a psychosis. A lot of times parents are afraid. We don’t want Susan-Johnny-Susan-Alexander-Gavin to know. But those children know that something is wrong. There is one treatment program in the country that I will highly recommend for children. And that is Jerry Mo’s children program at the Betty Ford Hazleton Foundation Center. Jerry Mo is probably the first person in the US who’s ever started a children’s program. And having grown up in an alcoholic family, I can only tell you if I was a little kid, I wish I had that program to go to. There are good programs for children who live in alcoholic homes, or homes that experience substance abuse across the country. Pavilions in NC has one. Northbound in Newport Beach area has one. And these are free-standing programs. You don’t need a loved one in the treatment center. But there are ways you can learn to get those rocks off your back. But you know you’re okay. That you can go to a safe place. And there are scores of, who will move that loved one to treatment? Who more than a child can move a mom or a dad to go get help? You have to be really sensitive. Being a licensed clinician, you don’t exploit the child. You have to honor the family and the family’s desire. Some of them don’t want them to have anything to do with that, and some of them will embrace the idea. So that’s an area that we have to navigate I personally have seen miracles happen when children are cared for and are allowed to, in a safe setting, share that with their parent.

Watch Video: Having children at interventions by Louise Stanger, Ed.D, LCSW, BRI-II, CIP, ...

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Expert Bio

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Louise Stanger, Ed.D, LCSW, BRI-II, CIP

Director All About Interventions

Louise Stanger received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, her Masters in Social Work from San Diego State College and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of San Diego. 

Dr. Stanger has over thirty years experience as a college professor, researcher and licensed clinician working with families and  individuals who experience substance abuse and mental health disorders. She serves as the Director of All About Interventions and as President of The Sydney D Holland Foundation. She has been performing Collaborative Interventions with families since 1980.  She  continues to explore the efficacy of treatment strategies such as Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral, Solution Focused Coaching, Family Systems and 12 Step Facilitation.

Louise is  a MINT Trainer of Trainers and  currently teaches at San Diego State University Interwork Institute Human Behavior, Theories of Counseling and Solution Focused Counseling .She previously served as a professor at SDSU School of Social Work and the Director of Alcohol and Other Drug services at the University of San Diego.  She is a catastrophic loss counselor and had the privilege of working with the New York Fire Department and widows of 9-11.

Most recently she has  served as a consultant to the Indie Film Documentary , "Behind The Orange Curtain", which explores the increased misuse of  prescription drugs and young adult deaths in Orange County. Also she is the author of a chapter, "Interventions are not Made For TV"  in the textbook, Interventions: Opposing Viewpoints published by Cengage Learning, 2012.

Louise has conducted extensive research on the effects of alcohol and other drugs on college age students. She has published scholarly articles and public health handbooks that support harm reduction strategies and environmental management systems. She has been the principal investigator/ project director and /or co-investigator of over 15 grants, which focus on collegiate substance abuse, six of which totaled over four  million dollars from the United States Department of Education and the National Institute of Health- National Institute of Alcohol Abuse  And Alcoholism . Findings have been published in The Journal of Alcohol Studies and elsewhere.

Louise has been the recipient of state and local awards.  She was twice named the Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty,  San Diego State University’s Faculty Homecoming Dedicatee, and recipient of San Diego County’s Outstanding Educator Award. The San Diego Business Journal recognized her as one of the “TOP Women Who Mean Business”.

 Louise is grateful and loves the energy and collaborative spirit shown by the professional  recovery community in their goals to reduce the harm associated with substance abuse. With tireless energy she continues to contribute to the field through clinical interventions, family recovery coaching, training and research.

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