Family Intervention - The 3 Phases

There are usually several stages to a family intervention.  If you haven't yet read the introduction to this topic, please visit the Addiction Intervention page, or the previous Page 3 - Crisis Intervention Strategies (Hoes does an intervention work?) for additional background.

What can I expect once I make a gambling addiction treatment center selection?
Once you select a facility and an interventionist (these may be the same people/place), you can expect three general elements to the family intervention process:Family Intervention

1.  Planning
This involves the interventionist learning about your loved one, the problem gambler.  Learning about their family background, their lifestyle, any issues you know they have been struggling with, and their state of mind.  Understanding their state of mind will allow them to help plan for objections your loved one may have if they resist the idea of getting treatment.  While techniques can vary, this phase generally includes each person participating in the intervention to write a letter to the gambling addict that will be read on the day of the intervention.  The letter usually includes things you love about the gambler, a summary of concerns regarding their problem gambling behavior, and consequences that will be imposed (by you personally) if the gambler doesn't agree to go to treatment.  As a group you'll also compile a list of possible objections the gambler may have for not wanting to seek treatment.  This can include things like:  "I don't have a problem.  I can stop on my own.  We can't afford it.  Who will take care of the kids?  Etc."  The team will prepare responses to each possible question as part of the preparation phase.

2.  Practice
Family intervention practice day involves each person taking turns reading your letters in an environment that mimics the day of the intervention.  There's usually a role play where someone will take on the role of the problem gambler, and react to the letters, including throwing up objections.  It's usually best to prepare for the worst case scenario, being that the gambler will be very upset, angry, feel betrayed, be generally uncooperative, and even try to run away.  The practicing phase is extremely important, and truly critical to giving intervention day the best possible chance of success.

3.  Intervention Day
This is the actual day of the family intervention!  Everyone participating (except for your gambler of course) will be at the venue well in advance of the meeting time, maybe even two or three hours ahead.  You don't want to run into the possibility that the gambler will arrive before everyone is in place, or even see someone they're not expecting to see, and be tipped off as to what might be happening; i.e. they run!  The intervention usually won't take place at the gambler's home; this is too comfortable and familiar, and makes it easier for them to escape to another room, lock themselves in the bathroom, etc.  I know all of this sounds somewhat extreme, but good planning, preparation, and day-of execution can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful intervention.  There will be a trusted party responsible for getting the person there.  The circumstances surrounding the situation and person are so unique to each case that I won't even attempt to provide any rules or recommendations around this aspect.  But just to give you an idea, it could be an invitation to lunch, or an event; anything that gets them there at a specific time.

You may have noticed
that I described the three step process as being three distinct days.  Some interventionists may try to do all three steps in two days, or even one day.  From what I've learned from talking with experts, as well as my own personal experience, anyone purporting to be able to effectively accomplish these steps in one day is taking a massive risk.  I'd say that they either aren't qualified, or have such a busy schedule that they're trying to simply fit it in for their own convenience or for the convenience of the participants.  Trust me, despite any inconvenience or additional cost to meet, it's well worth it.  The planning process is not easy, and can be even more emotionally taxing than the actual day of the family intervention!

If you have personal experience with participating in an intervention, definitely please share it with visitors to this site by using the anonymous submission form on the Gambling Addiction Help page.

Page 5 - Family Crisis Intervention Services
(How much does is cost?)

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