Monday, May 21, 2007

Rethinking Intervention II

If a young person you care about becomes involved in a behavior that will ultimately lead to destruction, it would be wise to conduct an intervention. You have the very important opportunity to intercede for the adolescents in your sphere of influence, just as Odysseus stepped into the lives of his crew. What is an intervention? When a person is addicted to their lotus of choice, the other people in her life—siblings, parents, and friends—may be experiencing a wide range of feelings, including anger, guilt, betrayal, fear, or frustration. Maybe things have been tried in the past and have failed. The situation can be chaotic. The goal of an intervention is to focus the siblings, friends, and family into a cohesive group that can introduce change into the destructive cycle of dependence. Most of us can remember when something said or done by someone who was important to us changed our way of thinking and perhaps saved us from a ruinous situation.

The group must have a leader—an Odysseus, so to speak. The leader must make sure that the group has been familiarized with the dysfunction at hand. If the problem is an addiction, treatment options should be investigated. The intervention group should meet prior to the actual intervention for purposes of preparation. What is going to be said to the individual? Who should be involved? Treatment should be arranged ahead of time.

When the time comes for the actual intervention, the leader’s job is to establish a sense of order in the process. Each person in the group gets an opportunity to speak to the person involved and let her know how much she means and how much she is loved. The individual needs to know that her behavior affects everyone in the room and that the problem is no longer hidden. Since treatment has already been arranged, there is no room for debate. Keep the tone loving and full of respect, but be resolute. The person may break down and cry. Perhaps she will become angry. Whatever the reaction, be firm. For the individual and for the group, the problem must be resolved and not allowed to continue.

Interventions of this kind may vary and don’t necessarily hold to a strict set of rules. Sometimes a simple intervention is best, maybe addressing a situation that hasn’t been previously acknowledged or asking a person to stop a behavior that is doing them harm or draining their life energy away. A simple intervention in an addiction to busyness can include requiring a student who is overextended to reduce the number of activities in which they are involved. For a teen that is lost in a fog of video games, television, or the Internet, it may mean taking away the game system, disconnecting the Internet, or removing the television from the bedroom. Regardless of the situation, it is highly recommended that you seek out the advice of a counselor or intervention professional for your particular situation.

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