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The Johnson Intervention Model is often referred to as confrontational, or surprise, intervention.
What is the Johnson Intervention Model?
This intervention model was founded in 1960 by Dr. Vernon Johnson after he studied a group of people with alcohol use disorder. Johnson observed the reasons for the subjects’ decision to quit drinking: they were motivated to stop after a series of small but significant life events. Johnson determined that individuals with alcohol use disorder often needed the help of loved ones in the process of finding recovery.
The Johnson Model, therefore, incorporates the family in the intervention process. Using it, the family first explains how much they care for their loved one, expresses the extent of the addiction and how it is impacting the family, then sets a clear boundary of what will happen should the person choose not to seek the help they need.
The Johnson Model is one of the most common types of intervention. It can be used with any individual, whatever stage they are at with their substance or alcohol use disorders. It is a myth that you have to get to rock bottom to get help. It is also a false belief that the person needs to be ready to get the help they need.
How does the Johnson Model work?
The Johnson Model works best with individuals who are in denial about their alcohol use disorder: they lack awareness of both the severity of their condition and the consequences of their continued harmful use of substances to themselves, their family and loved ones, their workplace, and potentially their local community.
However, it must be stressed that the goal of the Johnson Model is not to shame the individual suffering by blaming or criticising them. The goal is to create awareness by providing the family an opportunity to express to their loved ones both the impact of their behaviour and the potential consequences of not seeking professional help with their problem. This is facilitated within a safe environment.
Typically, the intervention works in the following stages:
- Gather three to eight people who care for and are important to the person with a substance use disorder
- Arrange a meeting to plan the intervention process and discuss the extent of the problem — this includes asking family members write a letter to their loved one
- Gather with family members to rehearse the intervention
- Conduct the intervention — the experienced facilitator will guide this process
- Afterwards, you can expect the interventionist to call the treatment facility to tell them to expect the individual’s admission. Appoint someone to transport them their or ask the interventionist to do so.
Why do you need an intervention to get someone help?
Expressing your feelings in this way can be challenging for a family or partner, and it can be difficult for the person struggling to hear — they may become defensive, argumentative, angry, or withdrawn. That is why it is crucial to hire a certified interventionist to facilitate this potentially challenging process.
That’s where I come in. As an experienced interventionist, I can guide the family unit in the process of intervention, bring the group together, facilitate the discussion to a resolution, and even provide safe transport to a treatment facility .
Often families think they can do this alone, but it often leads to arguments, or worse — pushing the person further away and deeper into their addiction. It is crucial that the family understands both how to have this conversation and the complexity of substance use disorders. When they do, they’re able to separate their loved one from their addiction and have a conversation from a place of honesty, non-judgment and hostility, and instead compassionately share their thoughts and feelings.