What is a Systemic Family Intervention?
Wayne Raiter MA, LICSW it is an experienced family interventionist who put together the Systemic Family Intervention process based on his experience of many years helping families. He identified that when he made the family the focus of the intervention rather than the individual being singled he was able to bring about a method of change that seemed more appropriate in certain situations.
A Systemic Family Intervention focuses on the family as the client rather than the person with the addiction. A Systemic Family Intervention is a process rather than the major event.
A Systemic Family Intervention is a therapist led process whereby a family engage in a process of change discussed in an open manner as they challenge the effects of addiction upon the family.
The Systemic Family Intervention involves education about the dynamics upon the family of untreated addiction.
The Systemic Family Intervention involves the family setting recovery goals and being able to hold and maintain those boundaries.
The Systemic Family Intervention is family inclusive rather than exclusive.
The Systemic Family Intervention requires a process of honesty and openness in holding boundaries and engaging in the process from everybody equally and in unaccountable manner.
The Systemic Family Intervention is a win-win process on the basis that the family and the person with the addiction are able to agree on escalating levels of treatment should relapse occur.
How does a Systemic Family Intervention differ from the Vernon E. Johnson model?
The Johnson model of intervention focuses on the addict/alcoholic as the identified person who requires treatment. The Johnson model is designed to bring about an immediate admission of the addicted person into effective treatment right now, not later. A simple Johnson intervention is often a one-off event which requires heavily on planning, preparation and letter writing where the client is offered an emotional choice between their addiction or the family.
How long does a Systemic Family Intervention take?
A typical Systemic Family Intervention will involve the family including the person with the addiction attending weekly meetings facilitated by skilled addictions therapist. This process will last for at least three weeks at which point the person with the addiction may well then enter residential treatment. However, if the family respond well to the therapy and the person with the addiction is able to engage in active recovery alongside the family then this process may well extend over several months to the point of effective change having taken place.
When is a Systemic Family Intervention the most appropriate choice?
Systemic Family Intervention is most appropriate for what is loosely termed as “functioning addicts or alcoholics”. The Systemic Family Intervention for a person who is still engaged in relatively normal family life, work or college/university, is physically or mentally still able to function is more likely to be successful than trying to bring about full-blown residential treatment at this point.
The systemic intervention is a therapeutic process in its own right and will often be the most appropriate choice for behavioural addictions such as gambling, shopping, Internet, sex, exercise, codependency and variations of all of these.
When is a Systemic Family Intervention inappropriate?
When a person’s addiction is so damaging to their lifestyle, health, mental health and social functioning that they are unable to work with a therapeutic process, the residential treatment is needed immediately and therefore the intervention process should work towards that point. Where there is a need for detoxification, or there have been major life changes like redundancy, unemployment, significant health problems, marital problems or legal problems then the person is unlikely to be able to engage in the abstinence-based requirement of the Systemic Family Intervention outside of a safe therapeutic environment.
A Systemic Family Intervention will often be inappropriate when a significant family member requires treatment for codependency and chronic enabling behaviours. If the environment around the person is unable to hold boundaries, or they can not be supported in holding boundaries then immediate residential treatment is probably best for the client. This gives the family time to recover themselves. It is not strange for family members to sabotage the recovery process through lack of knowledge, distorted beliefs or fear.
What are the key therapeutic components of the family systemic intervention?
The therapeutic components of an effective systemic intervention required family to be educated and to identify the patterns and processes involved in the untreated addiction.
The family will collectively start to look at the codependency enabling patterns that build up around a person’s progressive dependency on drugs or behavioural addiction.
The family will set goals against change, that they will then seek to practice and reflect upon.
The family will build a contract of recovery that they all agree upon and are able to engage with.
The family will build in agreed reactions to challenge old behaviours of enabling all relapse.
Much of the therapy of a systematic family intervention is designed a experiential, such that the family may find through their own practice that they feel safe enough to let go of all behaviours, beliefs and opinions.
Most families will agree to attend organisations that support the process. Families anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon are some of the independent organisations that are hugely successful when incorporated as part of a recovery plan.
The whole family will be required to maintain recovery journals that look at the process of identifying thoughts and feelings which result in behaviours with a view to identifying patterns, that they may then change these relationships for the better.
The family were no longer keep secrets.
However I organise a systemic family intervention?
Speaking with a certified intervention professional will of course provide you with the information you need to engage on this process or to identify another type of intervention most appropriate for your situation. The next stage is always very simple, get everybody to sit down with no interventionist for the first session and to allow the process to start.
How much does a systemic family intervention cost?
Professional family interventionists provide services at the rate of £120 per hour for group work. A typical family intervention meeting will take place at the counselling rooms for the interventionist or at your home. These will normally be two-hour sessions.