How to Choose an Intervention Specialist

Nov 26, 2018 | Rehab

Do you have a loved one struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction? You’re not alone. An estimated 20.2 million American adults have a substance use disorder.

For loved ones, addiction feels frightening and confusing. It can also feel downright infuriating.

Help is available. However, it can be challenging to guide your loved one to the right support and treatment if they have been resistant to your efforts in the past.

Staging an intervention can make a profound difference in supporting your loved one. Let’s get into how to choose an intervention specialist.

What Does An Intervention Specialist Do?

In the intervention, family members attempt to convince an addict or alcoholic to seek treatment. Loved ones convene to discuss how the substance use has impacted their lives.

During this conversation, family members usually set boundaries indicating what they will do if the loved one refuses their request. Boundaries may include kicking the addict out of the home or refusing to provide them money.

Intervention specialists have specialized training in addiction. Additionally, they have seasoned experience working with both addicts and their families during this process.

When Do You Hire This Professional?

Some families hire their specialists a few days before staging the intervention. Others may start weeks before the intervention is scheduled to occur.

Most specialists hold meetings with the family and loved ones before the event. This helps them mentally prepare them for the discussion ahead. During this process, some loved ones will back out of the process (change, after all, is scary).

However, interventionists work like coaches. They educate everyone on how to describe their feelings and reactions. They also act as a neutral party that remains emotionally disconnected from the family.

While interventionists typically provide support before and during the intervention, some of them stay in touch with the family during and after treatment.

This helps provide support throughout the process. Interventionists can continue intervening if and when problems arise.

It should be noted that relapse can be a part of the recovery process. A trusted advisor can help you set strong boundaries and take care of yourself during this challenging time.

Intervention Specialist Qualifications

Before choosing your specialist, you need to consider a variety of factors.


What kind of experience does the specialist have? What have their success rates been in the past? Can they provide references from past clients or families who they worked with in the past?

Ideally, any specialist should have extensive experience with planning, implementing, and staging family interventions.

That said, it’s a red flag if a specialist boasts about an exceptionally high success rate. Addiction recovery is a notoriously challenging process. Proceed with caution if anyone guarantees you certain results.

If you belong to a support group (like Al-Anon), feel free to ask your peers if they know of an interventionist they would recommend.

Credentials and Licenses

Some people ‘freelance’ as interventionists, but those individuals might not be the most qualified for the job. You should always inquire about education. While requirements vary, specialists often have psychology or social work degrees.

Moreover, you should seek out licensed or certified mental health professionals that are:

  • psychologists
  • therapists
  • counselors

These careers require advanced degrees, which can indicate increased addiction knowledge and expertise.

You can also check out the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS). They refer to a network of interventionists throughout the country.

Cost and Payment

Some insurances will cover the costs of intervention treatments. However, this is often an exception and not a rule. Usually, families must fork over some cash. Always check with your healthcare provider to determine what services will (or will not) be covered.

Make sure to inquire about the price of services and what exactly those include upon hiring. You can also check to see if specialists offer a sliding scale or financing options.

Ethics and Values

Good interventionists have a professional understanding of addiction. With that, they also have strong boundaries, communication skills, compassion, and empathy.

It’s a red flag if they seem overly fixated or rigid on a particular modality of treatment or treatment program. After all, addiction is a multi-faceted disease, and professionals recognize that all people have different needs when it comes to what works best for them.

Finally, a good interventionist always puts the client’s safety as a top concern- even if it means putting it in front of the family or friends’ wants. If someone needs medical stabilization, that should always be at the forefront of the priority list.

Your Level of Comfort

At the end of the day, most families choose the professional based on how they feel. In other words, do you trust this person? Do you feel like they are a good fit for your family? Do you like how they articulate themselves?

Degrees, experience, and certification matter, but it’s essential that you listen to your intuition during this process. After all, you’re going to be spending time with this person discussing some of your most intimate fears. It’s critical that you feel safe and supported!

Final Thoughts

Witnessing someone you love struggle with addiction can be one of the most painful and distressing experiences someone can endure.

You can, however, make a lasting impression. While interventions may seem harsh and heartless, they may be the necessary action your loved one needs to recognize the problem at hand. Hiring the right intervention specialist can make this process easier for everyone involved.

Interested in finding optimal, professional addiction support? Check out our services today!