An intervention can be the prompt that leads a person into addiction treatment and lifelong recovery. Family members, friends, and colleagues make up the intervention team, and a professional interventionist can lead the group.

There are different forms of interventions, and you can often find an interventionist through various national organizations. In addition, the addiction treatment center you choose may have specific interventionists they recommend.

What is an Intervention?

If someone you care about struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you may have searched for different ways to help them. You want to show encouragement and support for their health and healing, and one of the best ways to do this is through an intervention.

Because of unfortunate mischaracterizations on television, addiction interventions are often portrayed as emotionally turbulent affairs, but this approach to intervening does not usually work. Instead, interventions — whether they involve only one or two people or many family members — must be calm, focused, and geared toward supporting the person to get help to become healthy again.

Because family and close friends are often unable to remain objective, having a professional guide the intervention can work the best.

Counselors, social workers, doctors, and even spiritual or religious leaders can lead interventions, but increasingly, some addiction professionals are becoming professional interventionists.

Interventionist Certification Through Professional Boards

As you search for an interventionist, look for their training and background. A Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) will be certified by one of the groups of professional boards. They will also usually have an addiction specialist certification and training as certified by colleges and state medical boards.

Receiving training to become a CIP is voluntary. A person can claim to be a practicing interventionist without it, or they can be an addiction specialist with a detox and rehabilitation program without being a CIP, but finding someone with this certification means they have training in certain approaches to creating and leading interventions.

The Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS) has a Certification Board (CB) that determines the list of skills, responsibilities, and duties an interventionist should understand. AISCB requires their certified interventionists to have:

  • A license of certification in counseling or a related field
  • Two years of experience working with people struggling with addiction
  • Professional insurance
  • Signed the AISCB’s Code of Ethics, which emphasizes nondiscrimination, confidentiality, client safety and welfare, and ethical and legal behavior during the process.

AISCB offers Level 1 and Level 2 certifications for interventionists, depending on how long the person has practiced in the field.

The National Association of Drug & Alcohol Interventionists (NADAI) is a board that creates standards for intervention specialists and certifies them after meeting specific requirements. The organization’s standards include:

  • 100 hours in classroom, in-service training, or through approved home study courses, which may include online classes.
  • 1,000 documented hours of supervised work experience or a present supervisor and two other related professionals must testify to competence in the intervention field.
  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in behavioral science or related field that may count as supervised work experience.
  • Certification at the state level or national level, or NADAI-accepted equivalent.
  • Understanding of what an interventionist does to create an intervention, including assembling the core intervention team, completing all required medical and institutional reports, and consulting with other substance abuse treatment providers as needed.

The International Association of Addiction Professionals (IAAP) also certifies interventionists and lists specific requirements for the certification process.

  • At least a high school diploma or GED
  • 25 hours of professional training at an IAAP-approved educational institution
  • 10 hours of addiction-specific training, which can be part of the above 25 hours
  • Employment as a professional interventionist
  • At least one year of experience as a professional recovery coach
  • At least six hours of education and training in ethics in the past six years
  • At least six hours of HIV/AIDS-specific training in the past six years
  • Passing scores on the International Certification of Intervention Professionals (ICIP) exam within four years of IAAP application

Licensing through a local, national, or international board shows that your potential interventionist has met training standards and professional requirements to receive a voluntary membership and certification among their peers. Again, these certifications are not required to become an interventionist in the addiction field, but if an interventionist you’re speaking to does not list certifications, ask them if they have any training or memberships with these professional organizations.

Certification in Specific Types of Interventions

In addition to national or international boards of certification, there are programs that have certain approaches to creating and managing an intervention. These programs have individual programs of training interventionists in their methods too.

One approach to intervention is through a program called ARI. The organization behind ARISE describes the process as an invitational, non-secretive, and gradually escalating process. They state that the program is the only evidence-based approach to family intervention.

ARISE is a detailed method for creating interventions, so interventionists with a certification from this organization will have a particular method to help you and your family encourage a loved one to get addiction treatment. ARISE certification starts with a three-day comprehensive workshop on the program’s methods, followed by completing an online course, and then undergoing the practicum. The practicum requires supervision from an ARISE specialist as you lead interventions to ensure you use appropriate methods and that your questions are answered. There are also one-on-one meetings to discuss cases

BreakFree Intervention Training is another program-specific certification in which an interventionist is trained in the BreakFree method. The focus of this method is to help interventionists understand the history of addiction treatment and interventions, along with Brad Lamm’s tailored approach to intervening with someone who struggles with addiction. The program focuses on long-term recovery in which the whole family heals.

Another popular, program-specific approach to interventionist training is through Love First’s Clinical Interventionist Training & Certification program. Certification requires a five-day course on all aspects of intervention, including:

  • Structured family intervention
  • Executive-style intervention
  • Workplace intervention
  • Invitational-style intervention
  • Process intervention

Participants will spend all five days immersed in the program in a professional conference and retreat setting. At the end of the training, participants will receive a certification in the Love First method for creating and managing interventions.

How Interventionists Can Help You

There are several steps to creating an intervention, including finding a day and time when your loved one is not intoxicated; creating the core group who will participate in the intervention; writing out what you want to say to the person to encourage them to get help; and gathering information on treatment options that may suit your loved one the best. There is a lot to an intervention, and if you are already feeling emotional, sad, and vulnerable, making the intervention plan itself may be more work than you can mentally and emotionally handle by yourself or even with another loved one’s help.

An interventionist can help you with several necessary steps of the intervention, including:

  • Making the plan: If you are not sure where to begin, working with an interventionist can help you get started.
  • Creating the guest list: Interventionists can help you identify the most important people in the life of the person who struggles with addiction, so you can surround them with people who want to support their recovery.
  • Deciding what to say: If you don’t know what to say to your loved one, how to talk to them without becoming emotional or accusatory, or how to set and keep boundaries, an interventionist can guide you.
  • Leading the meeting: If you do not feel like you can lead the meeting, or there are no other loved ones or community leaders you want to lead, a professional interventionist can drive the intervention for you.
  • Planning the whole thing: A professional intervention specialist can work with you on every step of the process, including holding the intervention itself and following up afterward.

Deciding to hire an interventionist is an integral step, but where do you start? You can find a directory of interventionists from the Association of Intervention Specialists.

Various addiction rehab centers also have specific interventionists they like to work with. Once you have chosen a treatment program for your loved one, they can point you in the right direction.

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