The Johnson Model
Intervention: History and Background
Vernon E. Johnson is perhaps the original and best known specialist in the field of addiction and Alcohol Interventions.
Johnson refused to believe that alcoholic or addict was required to hit a rock bottom in order to access effective treatment. Johnson had witnessed how can willing clients could be coerced into accepting treatment through a legal system with effective ultimatum, and that evidence proved the success rates were the same for those with access the same treatment from other referring methods.
Vernon E. Johnson explored a concept of Family Intervention, which he suggested could intervene with untreated alcoholism earlier as opposed to later by way of an effective therapeutic model. He argued that if a family of well-prepared concerned others were to approach an alcoholic/addict they could bring forward a rock bottom experience alongside the offer of effective treatment. He documented this concept and the learnings from exploring his theories with the publication of his book, Intervention, a Step-By-Step Guide to Families and Friends of Chemically Dependent Persons, “ISBN: 0-935908-31-5”. We recommend you read this book as part of the preparation for an intervention.
A Johnson Intervention is based around some key concepts.
- Preparation is paramount. Every detail must be planned.
- An effective group must learn about the concept of addiction is an illness, a condition.
- The psychology of addiction must be learned, understood and worked with, not against.
- The language of Love and dignity is needed to ensure a poorly person will feel safe enough to accept treatment.
- A clear consequence of removing the enabling concurrently with an offer of treatment.
Intervention requires preparation, and it is apparent that there are several key components. Most of all the process must rely on dignity afforded to a poorly person. The concept that addiction/alcoholism is a diagnosable illness that has a predetermined set of criteria, a predictable process, and effective treatment is often information unavailable to many in our society, even today. Therefore it is important that the intervention group become knowledgeable and accepting that we are indeed dealing with untreated addiction, be it addiction to alcohol or any other behavioural or chemical dependency. It is also important that the concerned others that form the family intervention group learn of the specific psychological and emotional syndrome that affects those who are in active illness. Often best seen as the symptom of denial, Johnson proved that our approach to the individual will be ineffective unless the intervention group acknowledge the symptoms of euphoric recall, repression, and blackout.
Against the background of the above knowledge having been learned and accepted then the group is in a position to make an approach to the poorly person. This approach will always take the form of a script/letter that has been well-prepared, rehearsed, and is judged to be appropriate by the whole group. Most interventions are successful with the reading of this prepared letter when it is a part of many letters delivered in a respectful way. Johnson also was aware that there should be a removal of the enabling elements from the family, and that the ultimatum to the individual who is being offered treatment should be based on the family’s active recovery which would involve no longer enabling the symptoms of untreated alcoholism or addiction.
RedChair specialist addiction services is an organisation who knows that untreated alcoholism/addiction is unnecessary. One of the forms of a structured family intervention is known as the “Johnson intervention”. Over the years there have been other developments and refinements of the process. Bill Stevens has watched with horror many a family live with untreated addiction, noticing how the whole family would progressively distort its values and behaviours in line with an individuals use of alcohol or drugs, gambling or other behavioural dependencies. So many family members or friends make an enquiry by way of their GP, or directly to private treatment centres or Internet referral agent. So often, these excellent services are unable to help as the individual concerned is not the one making the approach.
RedChair interventions are currently 90% successful at helping the enquiring family to ensure their loved one with access the treatment option they have been exploring. Using the Vernon Johnson intervention model, many a family is able to do this on their own just using his book. However, most require the experience of a competent, confidence and effective Interventionist
Vernon E. Johnson was a pioneer in the division which now has many years of evidential success. RedChair is delighted to be able to offer high-quality staff to enable and facilitate a Johnson Intervention.