An intervention is usually the last option after everything else has failed.


Interventions: Watching a loved one go through ‘hell’, often seemingly oblivious to the reality of their own personal destruction, is a particularly heart-wrenching experience for their family and friends.

More often than not, it’s a situation where a loved one has got to such a low point in their life that it seems nothing can be done to bring them back; moreover, they won’t admit to having a problem, thus, there is no obvious motivation for them to change their ways or to seek out professional help. This is called ‘denial’ which is particularly common when a person is suffering from a psychological and physical dependence, such as for example:

  • Alcoholism
  • Prescription Drug Abuse
  • Street Drug Abuse
  • Compulsive Eating
  • Compulsive Gambling

But such a condition could also arise as a result of or in connection with any number of other factors including:

  • Depression
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Complicated Grief
  • Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders (OCRDs)
  • Relationship Breakdown
  • Interpersonal & Workplace Conflicts
  • Childhood Abuse
  • Chronic Pain & Illness
  • Life Difficulties & Transitions

What makes this so terrible is that the person in denial is likely to be subconsciously aware of, but not necessarily alert to, the hurt they are causing to themselves and to those around them; but for them dealing with the ‘problem’ is just too complicated and too painful, thus, denial is often used as defence mechanism (unconsciously) to protect themselves from those unacceptable thoughts or feelings which would likely manifest if they had to face the reality of their destructive behaviour. It is indeed a vicious circle which can, and sometimes does, lead to tragic consequences.

While friends and family may have done their best to help the affected person realise their destructive ways, even perhaps having conducted their own intervention, it is likely they have been met with vehement denial of having any problem, sometimes openly aggressively or more commonly in a passive aggressive manner; this, despite everyone’s best intentions can cause friction amongst those people trying to help often leading those very people to simply give up.

Arranging an intervention by an expert may be another option to try.

Professional intervention services

CBT Counselling offers an expert intervention service which is designed to address the affected person’s particular circumstances. A professionally conducted intervention will present the affected person with a structured opportunity to make positive changes to their life  before things get even worse; it can even motivate him or her to accept professional help.

Professional intervention services

Indeed, an expertly conducted intervention is a carefully planned process conducted by an experienced Psychotherapist. This will ensure that the intervention process is conducted as an objective exercise rather than a subjective one where family and friends may unintentionally undermine the process by bringing their own emotions and complaints to the forefront of the process. This is unhelpful as it can lead the affected person to feel blamed or persecuted or guilty and cause him or her to shut-down and move even further away from help.

Depending on the circumstances the intervention may take place at the affected person’s home or at a place of neutrality where the person can feel safe. It is important to note that an intervention does not give licence for support people to vent or otherwise abuse or criticise the affected person though, on the other hand, one must expect the affected person to vent because it is an opportunity for them to do so without fear of criticism for doing so. This can be particularly trying for those supporting the affected person.

Of course, the ultimate aim of an intervention is to:

  • Open up constructive communication with the affected person
  • Tease-out and identify the cause(s) of the affected person’s behaviour
  • Help the affected person realise that a problem exists
  • Help the affected person to realise that help is available
  • Affirm with the affected person that they are loved by family and friends who will support by them throughout recovery
  • Ultimately, begin the process of healing so that the affected person can be freed from the torturous life they are enduring

Who can arrange an intervention

In most cases an intervention is arranged by a family member or close friend of the affected person.

Usually, one or two particularly close family members or friends of the affected person, or other significant and trusted person in the affected person’s life, will be invited to be involved in the intervention; but it is not the case that everyone interested will be invited to be involved, because too many people might overwhelm the affected person.

Additionally, there might be underlying frictions, and deep-seated and long standing tensions, that exist between the affected person and certain people who might not realise how the affected person considers them. The affected person’s perceptions and cognitions are the intervention’s paramount concern. Thus, it would be unhelpful to have those persons, or too many people, present at an intervention.

How long does an intervention take

In most cases an intervention will be scheduled for between three and five hours, though there is no hard and fast rule. A particular intervention strategy may require more than just one intervention. Indeed, an intervention strategy may require a rolling program with a few hours each day of intervening activity over several days. One must be careful not to push the affected person too far too quickly.

How long does an intervention take

Overall, the length of an intervention is dependent on the degree and complexity of the affected person’s problems and their level of agreeableness to the intervention process. Some other considerations to be taken into account include the location of the venue where the intervention is to take place, and how many people are to be involved.

While most interventions are conducted in a home setting some interventions will by necessity be conducted in a neutral place, for example, at a friend’s home or even a hotel room or at our clinic. Howsoever the intervention is to be conducted, it has to be conducted in an environment which is private and non-threatening to the affected person.

It is now common place to hold interventions in a rural or semi-rural setting – for example at a ‘farm stay’ or country guest house where there is little, if any, distraction. Indeed, a tranquil setting can be conducive to a relaxed atmosphere. In such cases the intervention process could take up to 2 or 3 days and involve a range of professional people attune to the needs of the affected person.

It is important to realise that an intervention is not a quick fix. It is a significant step in the process of helping the affected person regain their mental health.

Taking the first step to expert intervention

Don’t hesitate to contact CBT Counselling in order to arrange a phone-consultation to discuss the possibility of an intervention. This consultation will usually take no longer than 10 minutes and is free and without obligation.

Taking the first step to expert intervention

If an intervention appears to be a viable option, a ‘face to face’ consultation will be made. This consultation will likely take a minimum of one hour and will largely be focused on obtaining background information about the affected person. It may also be necessary to arrange a group meeting of those persons wishing to help and support the affected person during and after the intervention.

During this consultation we will endeavour to formulate an intervention plan in the event the affected person agrees to the help offered; and we will explore a follow-up plan in the event the affected person refuses the help offered.

Depending on the degree and complexity of all the circumstances to be taken into account in formulating an overall intervention strategy more than one pre-intervention consultation may be necessary.

Should an intervention not be deemed suitable, alternative strategies can be explored instead. CBT Counselling’s primary focus is on the mental wellbeing of your loved one, so, if we cannot help you directly, we will assist you at no charge to locate a more appropriate service provider.

It is important to be aware that despite our best endeavours, CBT Counselling cannot and does not guarantee an intervention will be successful. If you require any further information about our counselling and psychotherapeutic services, please phone or email us via the ‘Contact Us‘ / ‘Phone‘ buttons displayed on your screen.