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
Same Procedure/Different Diseases
Motivational intervention has been used successfully for many different types of addictive behavior. Alcohol, drugs and food are the three most often addressed. Compulsive gambling or excessive spending (money), dysfunctional relationship addiction, sex addiction (anywhere from spending hours on “web sites” to cross-dressing to pornography books/videos), smoking (nicotine), steroid use, moving an elderly loved one into a nursing home, obsessive television viewing have all been troubles of people I have intervened on. Then there are those with other medical illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, who have given up on themselves and surrendered to the disease.
The procedure is the same; only the emphasis and issue-specific phrases and concerns are changed. We will go into the actual procedure a little later, but I also want to mention that it is very common for the addict to be addicted to more than one substance or activity at once.
The intervention is designed to present a solution to one individual at a time; it has been used to intervene on two at a time in some instants however, sometimes someone else in the group may also decide to go into treatment. Once, when I was a guest on a radio talk show, I received a call from a young man who said he had participated in one of my interventions for a friend of his the year before, and he had recently gone through treatment for himself because of the experience.
In another case, we intervened on a man who refused to accept the treatment. “I don’t care what you say, I’m not going!” Then his wife popped up and said, “Well, I am!” The husband then followed her in as an outpatient family member. Another time, a college student was being intervened upon for drug addiction, and when it came time to escort him to treatment, his older brother went with him for help with his codependency.
I think the key to my success with intervention is that the procedure is flexible. The of process preparation, presentation and debriefing is accomplished in stages, usually within a twelve-hour period. That is usually all the time all the participants can coordinate and sustain themselves for together. The interventionist has pre interest to case and post interest to case but for participants can be accomplished in the twelve hour window. There is a thing called information overload!
The preparation usually lasts for two to three hours and is done the afternoon before the intervention. Yet, there have been emergency situations and exceptions which may cause the preparation to last little more than an hour-and-a-half before and may be partly done on the way to the intervention (plane, car, etc.) with participants. I intervened on a 20-year-old woman who was addicted to drugs, and a male friend of hers was excluded from the intervention group because some members of the family did not want him there. But he came anyway and waited outside. The girl erupted with anger just moments into the intervention and bolted from the room, but the friend was there. He had no preparation but spoke from his heart and helped her calm down enough to listen. He had more influence with her than anyone in her family. In another case, our arrangements got mixed up and we ended up convening at a parking lot only minutes before the intervention. My words of wisdom to the participants, “Be sincere, Be genuine, present it as a gift and stay with the theme of treatment,” were the only preparation they had. This is not a preferred situation, but in an emergency, you adapt due to the severity and the group capability.
The intervention can last from one to three hours and debriefing is about an hour after that. The average Storti model intervention lasts approximately forty-five minutes. Other evidence of flexibility is that the participants (or would-be-if-they-could-be participants) can record (audio) their messages or write them down in a letter to be read during the intervention. Children, in particular, do well on video. Although recordings and letters can add to the intervention and can be a comfortable means of communicating, for some participants they lack the impact of a live presentation‑hearkening back to that idea of the whole group being greater than the sum of its parts. Still, a recording or letter can “plant the seed” of treatment in the dependent’s mind.