Heart to Heart: The Honorable Approach to Motivational Intervention is primarily a cookbook for those who desire a thorough understanding of my intervention process. The book describes intervention as a tool to help the lay public, paraprofessionals, and established professionals. It is a quick read, intended to acquaint the reader to my method of intervention. It’s sort of a bird’s-eye view of the Storti Intervention process. -Ed Storti
Motivational Intervention Goals
Although the public, including my professional peers, often gauge the success of an intervention by observing whether or not the addicted person went for treatment immediately, I maintain that the first goal is to present. The patient must be available and have a routine in which an intervention can be planned. If he/she is available, you are one-third of the way home; if he will sit down, you are two-thirds there; and if they listen, then you have made it home as far as the presentation goes. It may seem incidental to consider this a goal, but it is far more than a technicality.
When you consider the time and energy that most participants have put forth to prepare and meet for an intervention, it is easy to understand why they have a need to present to the dependent directly and on time. In other words, they are all pumped up and ready to go! A tremendous amount of energy is fused together for one sudden burst of effectiveness. Waiting around for the dependent who does not show up leaves the participants feeling incomplete, drained and exhausted. That combination can provoke anger, resentment, and frustration, totally negating the honorable experience for which they had assembled.
The second goal of the group is to motivate the addict to get help—the sooner the better. The participants are prepared to rally for the addict, to say and do whatever it takes to motivate them. For example, suppose we are all in a lifeboat, making a bridge out of our arms to reach a loved one who is about to drown in the ocean. If a couple of us have to get out of the boat and into the water, so be it. We will be a team, no matter what it takes. Whether we agree with every minute detail or not, whether the loved one fell in the water or jumped in, it does not matter. We all got into the lifeboat to save him/her and one way or another, we will keep him from drowning. Afterwards, however, if he decides to go back out there, this is his choice.
Or imagine we are all mountain climbers strung together and a loved one is stranded on a cliff. We are asking him to trust us in swinging him over to a safer ledge to pull him up. We are all resolved to go to the peak today—not tomorrow—and we are not going to allow him to stay stuck on that ledge.
Another goal is that the patient stays in treatment. The intervention procedure is so powerful and meaningful that the patient almost always stays for the full recommended treatment experience. There are times, however, that the person agrees, but you seriously doubt they will stay in treatment. You may think they agreed as a means of concluding the intervention. One time, I intervened on an attorney at his home, and five minutes into the intervention, he stated, “Okay, I’ll go.” We were glad, of course, but I had to tell him, “Savor the moment. Here is a group of people who love you so much and care so much about you that they took out time to come and tell you so themselves. The only time most people get to hear this tribute to themselves is at a funeral. Sit back and enjoy this; it’s going to be a very moving experience.”
In actuality, very few people ever leave their treatment midway. Part of that success is in the intervention specialist’s ability to assess the needs (physically, budget-wise, attitude, status, etc.) of the patient and the family, and in finding the appropriate treatment facility. These aspects are covered in more detail later. I do believe there are certain facilities more appropriate for attracting certain patients ( i.e. aesthetics, style, etc.).
A fourth goal of the group is to help prevent relapse. The intervention is the time when the seed is planted (that life does not have to be like this, that there is a solution for the addict). The silence about the addiction and its side effects has been broken. Part of what accomplishes this goal is the fact that once someone is treated, she is never the same. You cannot go back except by conscious choice. The next time the patient is tempted to take a drink or drug, he will remember the group that stood up for him, and the compulsive action will require new and careful consideration.
Family involvement is also very important to a family’s continued recovery from addiction. Additionally, individual/family therapy, anonymous groups, and continued education all help the patient and family prevent a relapse of old thinking by family enablers.
The fifth goal of motivation intervention is the unity of the group. Intervention is a strenuous undertaking for all participants. Other issues, opinions, and personality/attitude quirks aside, they all agreed to undertake this one effort to help this person, this one time. They will always be closer for having shared the experience. In fact, what is far more typical than getting people to participate is trying to explain the absence of those you did not ask. Some people are truly offended at not having been asked.
The unity of the group is paramount to the success of the intervention. There cannot be an atmosphere of unrest in the group. The effect of the people mix has to be uplifting, positive and united in cause. If there is significant bickering, arguing or other unrest in the group, it may be best to delay the intervention for a period or not utilize this process at all!