Intervention It's Not That Simple: Professionals Talk about Need for Specialization and Standards

By Enos, Gary A. | Addiction Professional, September-October 2011 | Go to article overview

Intervention It's Not That Simple: Professionals Talk about Need for Specialization and Standards


Enos, Gary A., Addiction Professional


Reinforced by a mass media coverage blitz and a perceived need to diversify services delivered by clinical addiction professionals, intervention certainly has been cast as a key growth area in addiction services. Yet two intervention experts with presently related career paths believe that a more crowded field and a lack of nationally accepted practice standards have created tough sledding for many interventionists, as well as a crying need to assess critically where the field is going.

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"This is some of the most challenging work in the field. You're dealing with someone who is in active addiction--they are acute, reactive, unwilling," says Jane Eigner Mintz, an intervention trainer who this year decided to take a break from intervention work to become director of professional services and development at a new California treatment center.

Adds Garrick Kreitzer, the northern Kentucky-based interventionist who has taken over as director of Mintz's Realife Intervention Solutions operation, "There is an undercurrent of a call for standardization of interventionists' competencies." Yet there remains great uncertainty over whether this activity will occur on a national or state-by-state basis, and what the ramifications of that decision will be for what standards would look like.

For purposes of any regulation of operations, "In many cases you will have to ask, 'Where is the service taking placer" says Kreitzer. "Is it where the clinician is located, or where the client is?"

Clinical complexity

Kreitzer says he fully supports a move toward standardization for intervention services, as he says both the public and professionals are becoming more aware of the clinical complexities of the interventionist's typical client. Those complex presentations always have been there, he says, but some of the clients' needs have traditionally gone unaddressed or even unnoticed.

"Intervention has always been from a substance abuse model; the interventionist looks to place the client somewhere. But it doesn't stop there," Kreitzer says. "You need a competency standard in order to properly assess."

He foresees more specialization emerging among professionals in the intervention community, in areas such as family treatment and process addictions. He also thinks that because of economic factors, these types of services might be delivered in a fashion that differs some from the stereotypical intervention model.

"People today aren't necessarily able to pay for a big dramatic 'intervention,'" says Kreitzer. "What it's turning into is the delivery of more component-based crisis intervention services. It might look more like consulting services."

A typical example might involve the case of a client who is in recovery from substance addiction but never truly had other compulsive behaviors addressed during past treatment; an interventionist's work might focus on the narrower set of issues presently impeding the client's long-term recovery prospects.

Mintz believes interventionists need to have some form of trauma training, as well as an understanding of underlying process addiction issues in area such as food and love. "These are the core issues that fuel addiction," she says. "For years we've been going after the symptomology. …

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