Surprise vs. Invitational: Which Is the Best Approach to Intervention?

Interventions help save lives; however, the intervention approach chosen is key. Every family is different and requires its own unique approach. The Johnson method of intervention, also known as a surprise intervention, can prevent impaired individuals from hiding out and avoiding the situation, but in some cases causes feelings of betrayal. With an invitational intervention, individuals have the chance to process the situation and may be more inclined to receive help. 

At A New Hope Recovery Services, we perform both the Johnson model and invitational interventions. How do we decide which approach is best for each family? Below are the ways in which we help process how to help families.

Invitational Interventions

The invitational model of intervention is set up like a family workshop. With this approach, the family comes together to discuss topics related to addiction and the impact it has on a family system. An invitational model of intervention is beneficial because it allows the entire family to work together to learn about addiction. 

This approach to interventions can bring the positive change the entire family needs, as addiction affects the individual with substance use disorder (SUD) and the family involved. Invitational interventions also give the individual with SUD an equal opportunity to learn about their addiction and the impact it has on their family. 

During this form of intervention, families have the opportunity to learn more about how they can help and hurt the recovery process of their loved ones. They can also learn about the risks of enabling and how to reinforce good behavior. Overall this approach helps a family work together toward a common goal: recovery. 

The Goal of Invitational Interventions

With invitational interventions, the individual with SUD has a choice. They can choose to attend the workshops set up by the intervention specialist or not. Even if the family member struggling with addiction never chooses to attend any workshops, the rest of the family can still benefit.

The goal of invitational interventions is to promote change within the family. The idea of these types of interventions is that the family learns to stop enabling their loved one’s behaviors, giving them control over the situation. Eventually, the family member with SUD will follow. When the family unit becomes stronger, their loved one often has no option but to accept help for their addiction.

How the Johnson Model of Intervention Works

Most people may be more familiar with the traditional media depiction of an intervention where families calculate a way to ambush individuals into treatment. There is usually unnecessary drama surrounding this method as individuals with SUD do not have time to process the issues their family is pointing out. 

The Johnson model of intervention, when done right, does not have to look like this. While it may seem daunting to surprise a loved one with an intervention, it is better to choose the right approach to help your loved one than to do nothing. 

The Johnson model of intervention is carefully constructed by intervention specialists. Before the actual intervention, family members and friends meet with an intervention specialist to discuss details and plan an effective intervention for their loved one struggling with substance use.

In an invitational intervention, families do the same work that is done during pre-intervention. The Johnson model goes through the same process as invitational interventions; the difference is that in invitational interventions, the struggling individual is invited in rather than being surprised.

When Are Johnson Interventions Beneficial? 

Johnson interventions are carefully constructed for individuals in denial about their addiction and how it impacts their life and those surrounding them. After each family member discusses every detail necessary to direct their loved one towards recovery, an ultimatum is usually presented if they refuse treatment. 

This method of intervention is not successful for every family. While a Johnson intervention is sometimes necessary, an individual has to, at some point, accept they have a problem and allow others to help them in order to have a chance at recovery.

Motivational Techniques 

The Johnson model of intervention can result in more people entering treatment, but if the individual is being forced into treatment, the chances of consistent recovery lessen. The following motivational techniques can increase the chances of an individual struggling with SUD getting the help they need:

  • Avoid blame
  • Avoid suppressing anger
  • Emphasize love and support
  • Allow the subject of the intervention to be involved in the planning process
  • Place less focus on the individual and their specific problems and more focus on the effects of the behavior on the family system
  • Keep the focus on dignity and respect for all members involved 

How We Decide the Best Approach to Take

Creating an effective plan for a loved one struggling with self-destructive behaviors or addiction requires professional help. During an initial consultation, A New Hope Recovery Services requests an interview for each individual who plans to be involved in the intervention with licensed professionals who go over every detail about the family and individual requiring help. This gives the clinical team a head start to create a plan and select the best approach for the individual struggling.

If you are considering an intervention for a loved one in need but are unsure about what approach is best for your family, A New Hope Recovery Services is here to provide you with guidance through this complex process. When it comes to addiction, there are many factors to consider before making a decision regarding an effective intervention method. Licensed professionals can help you determine the best approach to take for your family. While invitational interventions are ideal for families who want to work together to learn about addiction and how to overcome it as an inclusive family, sometimes a surprise intervention is required. Surprise interventions can seem confrontational and scare away loved ones, but with the help of a professional, your chances of helping your loved one can significantly increase. For more information, contact A New Hope Recovery Services at (407) 501-8490