We Love You and Want You to Change
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
An intervention is a planned get together to respectfully show the person who is engaging in unhealthy behavior how his behavior affects others with a plea for getting help. There is strength in numbers. Interventions started in Alcoholics Anonymous to get the addicted person into treatment and recovery. Family members, friends and even a boss tell the person they love and care about him, and then share how they have been hurt by their behavior. Then everyone requests that the angry person get professional help for the problem is made. Phone numbers of programs and resources for change are given.
Interventions can be done with several people present or with just yourself and your partner. Consider which way would be more effective. They help the person realize that they really do have a problem that is hurting others, but in spite of that they are loved and valued. Information is give about how harmful the person’s behavior has become and then hope for a better future is offered. Interventions are usually done with a four-part process and are done in the spirit of love.
- We care about you so much and we want the best for you.
- Each person is give the chance to talk. “Here is how you have hurt me (list the specific behaviors) and I want you to get help.” Use the “I feel formula of “I felt ______ when you _____.
- We are asking you to make a commitment to seek help and change.
- Here are the community programs and resources that are available. We love you and want you to call now.
In addition, you may heighten the awareness of how his hostility hurts him. Ask the angry person to notice how the physiological aspects of blowing up affect him. Ask him to pay attention to his pulse and perspiration rates that increase when he is upset. Ask him to notice the rush of adrenalin and stress hormones and how his blood pressure soars. Remind him that these physiological changes increase the stickiness of blood platelets, which promote dangerous blood clots leading to heart attacks or strokes.
Some interventions do not work because the person is so caught in denial, shame, power and control. The person may not be at a time of his life when he is ready to hear the truth about himself. Like the AA model, interventions are more likely to work when the person is down on himself and hits rock bottom. This is called “bottoming out” in AA. However, unlike the alcoholic who finds himself in the gutter alone and friendless, the abusive person feels justified and righteous in continuing to use his anger.
You may have to do more than one intervention before it “takes.” You may have to “raise the ante” on the natural consequences of loss that will happen if the person does change. Done correctly the intervention offers a loving lifeline out of the deep pit the person has dug. For more information, talk to an addictions or anger management counselor before doing a formal intervention.