Leading With Love: How Invitational Interventions Work

You’re Out Of Ideas

You’re out of ideas about how to support a loved one who struggles with addiction to alcohol, drugs, process addictions (i.e. gaming, psychiatric, mental health), or a combination of the above. Updated July 9, 2022. 

Maybe they’ve tried a few things or promised to, but somehow it’s never worked out. Something is going to give, and you don’t want that to be losing that person forever.

If you could heal them with your love, you would, but that hasn’t worked so far. Addiction is complex, and it’s got its barbed fangs in deep.

Maybe you’re exhausted, frustrated or angry, but you’re probably feeling at a loss of how to move forward.

Finally, Good News

The good news is that you’re reading this right now.

Take a deep breath—there is something that you and others who love that person can do together to initiate meaningful change. What’s more, it uses that love that you wish could help, and it does.

What is it?

A family intervention.

But, before you picture dramatic blindsiding scenarios, screaming, sudden confrontation and the potential for things to go very, very wrong, let us share a little history on interventions and our signature invitational intervention, the only type we do here.

The Old Way: “You sit down, buster”

Interventions were first formalised in the 1960s. In the Johnson model, family or non-family confront the loved one struggling with addiction to create conflict and expose damage.

It seeks to create a non-life-threatening crisis to compel them to enter treatment. In our years of experience, research and time spent working with people who are addicted, we find surprise interventions cause unnecessary stress and pain.

No one likes to be ambushed.

Also, many don’t want to create that confrontation for fear of destroying relationships or pushing someone over the edge.

Research shared in Landau MD and Garrett CSW’s paper demonstrates that many people who have experienced this model drop out of treatment because they don’t want to be told what to do—how very human, yes?

Our goal is for people with addiction to enter and remain in treatment, then carry on their new lives supported by loved ones and professionals long term.

So, again, we don’t participate or recommend the Johnson model. But we are here to help you with your family intervention in Canada.

Our Way: “Please sit down with us, person we love”

Our invitational interventions are grounded in awareness, trust and support. They are collaborative and non-secretive.

We work with wives, husbands, fiances, girlfriends, best friends, family and other loved ones to create a safe space to share concerns, fears and deep caring.

This model was developed by globally-acclaimed, board-certified American Interventionist Brad Lamm, who we have trained under, among other top leaders in the field.

These invitational interventions encourage awareness and vulnerability to show themselves.

They lay the foundation for the possibility of change. Lamm and other experts found deep family connectedness within people with addiction.

It’s also more likely that people will remain and do well in treatment when they are accountable to more than just themselves.

They Don’t Often Know The Impact They’ve Had

Missed dinners, child pickups, special occasions, attended or skipped—to you and others who have known the person for a long time, it’s obvious, glaring at times.

It might seem ridiculous that they don’t really know how much harm they have caused and are causing themselves.

Perhaps they think they are hiding their alcohol addiction, for example, as they still manage to complete their work, family obligations reasonably well. They could be in denial or believe it forms a huge part of their identity.

Creating an opportunity to share love and concerns is a powerful tool. We tend not to take the time to voice deep feelings.

Here, we come together to express hard things, yes, but grounded in genuine care and concern—that’s gold.

Let’s Create This Beautiful Event Together

So you’d like to engage in an invitational intervention in Victoria, Vancouver, maybe Calgary, Montreal or Toronto? We’ve got you. We do travel, but our offices are located in Victoria and Vancouver.

Like any meaningful event, an intervention involves careful planning.

First, we discuss the nature of the substance use and addiction and what you know about it. Then, we explore the family and friend connection to evaluate how these pieces come together.

This process is not just about the person with addiction, but also about you and other loved ones.

Share your truths. Addiction can result from family trauma, and it’s key to be working with as many facts as are available.

We’re Here With and For You

We’re here for the planning, intervention and support you and them through and after treatment.

We tailor the intervention to your specific circumstances and entire family system. This is part of why the invitational intervention and our process are so potent. We will also establish a contingency plan in case your loved one is resistant.

Equipped and empowered with a well thought out and explored strategy, you will feel more at ease. Plus, the potential to help them face and conquer their addiction soars.

What Your Invitational Intervention Looks like

The person with addiction is invited to come to a family meeting, sometimes in a home or a neutral space, to listen, talk and be supported.

They are invited to participate.

The invitation is usually extended the day before the family meeting by someone the person with addiction is connected to positively. This could be a friend, spouse or family member.

We all sit down and engage in a facilitated discussion to create awareness of the negative impacts of their addiction and behavior. We help cultivate a genuine desire to change.

The goal is to connect the dots and hopefully have the person say yes.

We lead with love, understanding and validation. Often, it allows everyone to express love, and truths that sometimes have never been voiced. No threats or surprises.

Yes, it’s a challenging conversation, but our process reduces tension and guides the way to possibility and connection.

How does this sound?

Let’s talk and explore further.

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About the author

Michael Walsh

When I say I’ve been there, I mean it. I am a different person now, and I am fired up about helping other people get to the place where they, too, are living better, healthier, and bigger lives.

1-on-1 Recovery Coaching & Sober Companionship

Did you know I can also work directly with your loved one? To learn more about Recovery Coaching or Sober Companionship, please visit my partner site at MichaelWalsh.com