How do I Find an Interventionist?

Last Edited: January 4, 2021

Caroline King

Clinically Reviewed
Andrew Lancaster, LPC, MAC

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

Get Started Toward a Brighter Future.

If you feel that somebody you care about has a problem with drug or alcohol abuse, and you have tried to get this person to see that it is destroying their life and hurting their family; you may be at the point where you may want to consider hiring a professional that can convey the message with love and compassion. An interventionist, aka Intervention Specialist, specialize in helping you confront your loved one in a supportive way, encouraging the person to get the treatment that is needed. An interventionist’s skills can literally mean the difference between life and death for your loved one. If you have tried countless times to get through to them, finding the right one is very important, as it may be just what you need to help you convince your loved to get help with their substance abuse problem.

The Difficulty of Looking for an Interventionist

But in that lays the difficulty as well. A quick Google search for “addiction specialists” reveals around half a million results. You may feel overwhelmed as you sift through all those searches; call (866) 578-7471 to talk to a real person that will answer all your questions when it comes to finding an affordable interventionist that actually cares. Many will claim to be an interventionist, but lack the experience needed when dealing with addictions to Heroin or prescription pills. What you need to make sure is that the individual you will work with has all the relevant credentials, comes recommended by peers, and has the necessary experience. Talk to an addiction specialist today for a list of reputable interventionists. Don’t run the risk of your intervention being ineffective when your son or daughter’s life is on the line. A failed intervention does not solely mean that your loved one won’t go into treatment, but it could also mean that they  will feel more alienated and withdraw from you and the family even more.

Your search should start with the Association of Intervention Specialists. Anyone registered with them has the relevant credentials and is certified through the AIS, which also means that they follow the accepted code of ethics. They will have a BRI-I or BRI-II credential. Make sure that, should you come across an interventionist who claims to have those credentials outside of the AIS, you actually check that they are genuine. You can also expect an interventionist to have another degree, such as social worker, addiction counselor or psychologist. These degrees mean they are educated in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. Only the Board Registered Interventionist credential means that they are fully trained in holding interventions.

Before You Hire an Interventionist, Ask These Questions

If you have identified a number of interventionists in your area, you should have questions about their tactics and what model they use. Make sure you have information about the person you are concerned about. The interventionist is likely to ask you:

  • What substances does your loved one abuse?
  • How long has this person been abusing substances?
  • Was there a specific event that led to you seek the help of an interventionist?
  • Has your loved one received treatment before?

Having the answers to these questions will help you make the right decision for your suffering loved one.

It isn’t just about their questions. You should have some questions yourself. A few things to ask potential interventionists include:

  • What his or her experience is in case management? An intervention culminates in a single event, but a long process happens before that event takes place. A good interventionist must be able to manage each element of this process, which also continues after the intervention itself and the loved one has, hopefully, entered treatment.
  • How she or he expect to be able to deal with specific types of obstacles in the process. For instance, your loved one may be in a relationship with a user who could sabotage the process. You may have people in your intervention group who are not completely aligned with the process. An intervention specialist could help you with these problems when they arise.
  • What is his or her success rate in the past? Do they have testimonials that they can share with you about how they run interventions? How do they define success: is it to enter treatment, to complete treatment, or to remain sober for a set period after treatment?
  • What are his or her credentials? As stated previously, the BRI credential is hugely important. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, there are other specific certifications, such as the Certified Intervention Professional certification. Also check his or her degree to underpin their BRI credential, such as psychotherapy, social work, alcohol and drug counseling, chemical dependency counseling and so on.
  • How often does he or she stage an intervention? While every interventionist must have a first intervention at some point, this should have been done by shadowing a more experienced interventionist and, later, while being shadowed themselves. While giving the underdog a chance is always a good thing, but remember this person’s future is at stake. The reality is that the outcome of an intervention can be unpredictable and could involve self-harm and aggressive behavior. Having an experienced interventionist could control potentially negative reactions from both the addicted person and the group.
  • What type of intervention models does he or she prefer? Numerous models have been developed over the years, and some interventionists develop their own models based on those. While the model they use is important, why an interventionist uses that particular model is even more important. The most common models are Pressures to Change, ARISE, SFI (Systemic Family Intervention), CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training), Invitational Intervention Model, and the Johnson Intervention Model.
  • What will be expected of you before the intervention actually takes place? A lot of work goes into staging a professional intervention, and you have to be prepared for that and willing to take part in every step of the process. You should have meetings with the interventionist and others who will be on the team. Have at least two plans and practice meetings as well so that you and the interventionist can be prepared for anything. During this time, you will create a blueprint of who will say what and who will do what, as well as finding treatment facilities for your loved one to go to. You may also be expected to take part in counseling yourself, as well as in educational programs on the addiction as a disease.
  • How much is the fee of the specialist? Although you cannot put a price tag on the survival of a loved one, most of us do not have an unlimited budget, and knowing the cost is very important.
  • Is their success rate specifically in terms of getting people into a treatment facility following an intervention? You must be realistic and know that not every intervention results in the person agreeing to undergo treatment. On television, you may see people breaking down in tears, saying an emotional farewell to their loved ones and being escorted to rehab. This is rarely how things happen in real life, although it is imperative that they go into rehab almost straight after the intervention. But it is equally possible that they will refuse the help that is offered to them.
  • Does he or she have experience in managing the addiction that your loved one is dealing with? Often, interventionists specialize in a specific type of addiction, such as alcoholism or those who abuse multiple substances at the same time. There are those who have co-occurring disorders, these include mental health issues such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression. Other interventionists focus on all forms of addiction. It is up to you to decide whether you want to work with someone who focuses specifically on your loved one’s type of addiction, or whether you are happy to work with a generalist.
  • What will happen should your loved one not agree to undergo treatment, or agree but then change his or her mind later? This is, unfortunately, a possibility that you have to prepare yourself for. They may even not show up for the intervention, or walk out during the process. Be prepared for this and how you will move forward.
  • Is the specialist able to help you find a treatment facility that is right for your loved one? It is common for the specialist to be in contact with various rehab centers and to have sent people there before. Finding a treatment facility is just as difficult a finding an interventionist, so getting those types of recommendations is a really good place to start. However, you should still also take the time to look into the different centers that are available, looking at where they are, what they cost, what types of specialists they have on board, what each specialist’s caseload is, what amenities they offer, and so on.
  • Why they chose to become interventionists in the first place. Motivation is very important, and most interventionists have been touched by addiction themselves at some point or another. Perhaps they were addicted to something in the past or maybe one of their loved ones was. Others have genuine philanthropic motivations. The personal journey your interventionist has gone through is important because it can also ensure that they have a true understanding of the journey that your loved one will go through, which in turn is something that they can then be trusted in, making it more likely for concerned person to accept help.
  • When can he or she do the intervention? This is also a very important question. While preparing an intervention takes time, there is always a sense of urgency in terms of getting help. Your loved one is on a downward spiral, after all, and there is no way that you can wait for a very long time. Usually, it will take a week or two to completely prepare and stage the intervention. This is necessary time, because rushing the process will make it more likely to fail. But any longer than that makes the chance of something bad happening to your loved one too large. If you feel that you need the intervention very quickly, and your interventionist can’t schedule you in that quickly, you will have to find someone else to help you.

What Is an Intervention Specialist?

Intervention specialists, aka addiction specialist, are best compared to a type of social worker; many have a social work degree, who focus specifically on helping people who suffer from addiction get into treatment. Their role is to work together with a range of individuals affected by addiction. These addictions can be, and usually are, on substances such as drugs or alcohol, but they can also be on gambling, sex, or food, for instance. Besides staging interventions together with loved ones, these specialists also generally offer group and one to one counseling, providing education, guidance, and counseling. These services are generally also offered to the loved ones of the addicted person, ensuring they have a good understanding of the situation they find themselves in. Interventionists generally work inside treatment facilities or hospitals, but they can also run a private clinic.

How Much Does an Interventionist Cost?

You will need to pay the fees for your interventionist straight away, and generally in full. Their payments are non-refundable, which is very important for you to be aware of. If your loved one does not accept the treatment following the intervention, in other words, you will not get your money back. This is also why you should ask what will happen if your loved one is unresponsive. Some interventionists charge per intervention. Others offer a package that means they will continue to try until they are successful or until the need otherwise disappears.

An intervention, unfortunately, is not covered by your insurance. The exact cost can vary greatly, usually ranging from $1,500 to $10,000. These costs tend to depend on what is included with the service, your geographical location, and the treatment facility that the interventionist is associated with, if any. While this may seem like an incredibly high cost, the cost of not using an interventionist can be far greater. Your loved one will continue to spend money on drugs, will continue to require expensive health care, will continue to affect the criminal justice system, and will continue to negatively impact the lives of others. And what could be the worst is that the addicted person can die, which has a tremendous human cost, and also a financial cost such as funeral expenses. Furthermore, most addicted people are unable to work, which means they cost society – and you – even more.

How to Conduct an Intervention?

A good intervention is conducted according to a specific process:

  • Create a plan, which is the point at which one individual suggests that an intervention is staged, and gathers people who can be included in this.
  • Gather information, which includes finding an interventionist and a treatment facility, and also education on addiction and abuse.
  • Form the team, which will include everybody who will be present during the intervention.
  • Decide which consequences you will be imposing on your loved one should the proposed treatment not be accepted. Also, be prepared to follow those through.
  • Write down what you intend to say. Try to create supportive sentences, preferably in the first person.
  • Hold the intervention itself.
  • Follow up, which matters whether the loved one accepted the offered help or not.