The process of an intervention is dynamic, fluid, and exciting. The way I do them – you’ll find out there are different models of intervention from invitational to surprise. I myself talk about I have the Stenger process.
So someone is going to call me up on the telephone. And we call them the first caller. Call me up, talk to me about their loved one and their problem. At the same time that they’re talking about that, I’m going to ask someone on the first call if it’s okay for me to start drawing. And what I do right then and there is a family map. Or in professional terms a genogram.
Because I want to learn everything there is to learn about this family. And I want to see what kinds of generational, what kind of difficulties the family has experienced. Because we will find generationally that there has been trauma, there has been sudden death, there has been other people that have a history of mental health or substance abuse disorders.
It puts into perspective what the family history is. So whether or not the loved one that they’re calling about, and I call them the identified loved one, is your husband, wife, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, you put it into perspective and you learn the whole family history.
And what we ask them is who is important to your loved one? Who are the people that they think are important? Because the way I work is to then set up interviews which are about 40 mins to an hour individually with each one of the people that the person says these are really important to Johnny.
And from those people we may learn other kinds of people. The actual research method I use is called portraiture. And it’s very interesting. It was developed by a woman by the name of Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot. She’s the only endowed Chair at Harvard University who has a chair named for her.
It’s a qualitative research methodology. I’ve used it many times. But I’ll ask almost everybody the same questions. First I’ll ask, tell me about yourself. Tell me about you. What’s your relationship with the loved one? What is so special about this loved one? Tell me some examples?
Then I’m also going to ask you, what have you experienced in the last 6 mos to a year that’s made your heart hurt? That makes you frightened? And in that section people will tell me experiences they’ve had, that the loved one is not the same.
And I’ll ask them also, what is your greatest fear? What are you afraid is going to happen? And then I’ll also ask them to tell me, what is their hope?
And when you interview individually, the information you get is so robust. So we will essentially get more information than if I put you all into a group.
I will also at the same time be working with the first caller. And the first caller is the one obviously who is going to be retaining our services. And with that first caller, what I’m doing, I’m a trained clinician. I’ve been licensed as a clinician since 1973. That’s a long time.
We’ll be doing what we call a retrospective analysis. We’re putting together a portrait of Johnny or Sally. And then using that as our reference portrait, we say, if this were my brother, sister, father, mother, what 3 treatment centers in the country, given your financial resources, because that’s really important to know, would be best. And then I will connect that person with those treatment centers.
Treatment center choice must be the family or the accountability team’s choice. And I say accountability team, because sometimes here in Hollywood, we’re working with entertainment attorneys, we’re working with stylists, personal managers, or friends as well.
It has to be their choice. But what I can say to them is I will only refer to places that I’ve visited, I know the staff, and I know the team. And I will also give everybody a really robust list, because not all treatment centers are alike. Not all treatment centers treat the same things. So that’s a misnomer. So you really have to be knowledgeable on that.
Then I do what’s called an invitational process, where we invite someone. I tell someone from the very get-go. It is fine for you to tell your loved one that you started working with Dr. Louise and my teammate whose name is Jeffrey. My teammate that I work with most often, his name is Jeff Merrick. He’s an alternative sentencing. He’s also a lawyer. And he’s in recovery.
I don’t do interventions alone. I feel it’s foolhardy, not clinically sound, and not safe. So after you’ve done all this background work, and you can do this in a compressed amount of time, it’s like planning an event. It is an event. But it’s a process.
So you set a date. You set a time. The day before, you have what we call a pre-intervention meeting. And all these beautiful people that you’ve met, you bring them together as a group for the first time. And you help teach them about what is the nature of substance abuse disorders. What is mental health disorders? What is particular to this? What we’ve learned. And this is the process.
And then someone has to give an invitation. So an invitation is given the night before by a loved one, or even sooner. And I’ll just use this as an example. Say Katie is the most important person in this loved one’s life. Katie will say, you know what? Tomorrow we’re having a family and friends meeting. This problem has just gotten so much bigger than us.
I’ve told you that I’ve been working with Dr. Louise and Jeffrey for a while. And tomorrow, Susie’s going to be there. Sallie’s going to be there. Your boss is going to be there. Dad’s going to be there. And we’re all having a meeting because we don’t know what to do anymore. And the meeting’s at 9 o’clock. And I want you to come.
And 96% of the time the person shows up. People say, they’ll never come. And that’s so untrue. I’ve had people say they’re never going to come. And we go to a home, and they’re standing outside at a tree. And they go, is that the person we’re supposed to meet with? And I always know what everybody looks like, because it’s really important for me personally to know what you look like. I want to be able to feel that, so I’m always having people send photos.
Sometimes, an intervention takes much longer than just one meeting. It’s a process. Sometimes you have people that are resistant. In our business we say no is just a conversation starter. Or Eskimos have a 1K words for snow. We’ve heard 1K words for no.
But just because someone will say no at that moment, we’ll pause. We’ll break. We’ll eat. And maybe we’ll have to go back later.
I’ve worked with families for very long periods of time. I think of one family in particular. My heart really hurts for this wonderful, wonderful parent whose daughter is just encapsulated with meth. And she’s right now in jail. And when she gets out in July, there’s a good treatment center for her waiting because she has been so resistant to change.
We’ve met with her several times. And each time she’s chosen the wrong direction.