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Preparing the interventionist: People over methods

February 25, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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An intervention professional who has frequently criticized the state of practice in her segment of the addiction field believes ethical problems in intervention are not dissipating, and she has responded in part by reformatting her approach to educating interventionists. Jane Eigner Mintz says the situation has gotten so dire that she now feels more comfortable calling herself a “clinical strategist” rather than an interventionist.

“Interventionist used to be a somewhat prestigious title,” says Mintz, developer of the Field Model of Intervention, of which she has finalized a revised version. “Now I think it is one of the lowest forms out there—anybody can be an interventionist.”

When Mintz conducts her next interventionist workshop event March 14-16 in Southern California, she will teach a significantly revised curriculum that will emphasize experiential learning over didactic lecture. She believes interventionists need a better understanding of what they bring to the table as people, and how they can translate that knowledge to helping families in crisis. She refers to her revised training mode as one of “building interventionists from the inside out.”

“We will do one day of the DSM and all of that, and two days experiential,” says Mintz. “I hope the participants will emerge much more inspired to find their place in the industry.”

Growing frustration

Mintz says she has long been frustrated that some individuals who had participated in her trainings appeared to be looking for a certificate only and were not willing to do the necessary work or receive the proper supervision and guidance. She had written the Field Model of Intervention in 2009 to emphasize the clinical underpinnings of working with complex and often resistant individuals and families, but still she was concerned about the opportunistic outlook exhibited by some of her students.

A particularly egregious example of this occurred when one student participated in her training and just six months later began to advertise as an intervention trainer, she says.

She decided to alter her approach last year after enduring several personal losses in her family and then going through the experience of rescuing a wild mustang. “This gave me insight that we're really approaching people from a very severe orientation,” Mintz says. “We're practicing dominating people.”

She uses the analogy of the horse to describe how she wants her workshop participants to approach intervention: While cowboys break horses, she says, Native Americans learn to walk with them. The equine-based experiential workshop that will take place on March 15 and 16 in Pacific Palisades will help individuals learn about balance, proper boundaries, and the need to “speak a different language” when working with a horse—all skills that are directly translatable to working with a reactive client and a troubled family in an intervention setting. Natural Horseman trainer Cheyenne Price will co-facilitate this part of the March workshop.

“I want to teach leadership,” Mintz says. “I want the participants to be learning how to lead families, not dominate them.”

Personal interview

Mintz says around 20 students likely will participate in the March workshop. She will conduct a personal interview of everyone who seeks to enroll.

“There are things that I want to hear from them,” she says. One will be the goal of, “I want to be better.”

She says recent efforts to improve the landscape for intervention have left her feeling that not enough progress is being made. The grandparenting process that is part of the new Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) credential means that some individuals whose qualifications probably should be re-examined will continue to operate with a new certification.

Mintz believes that ultimately, licensure of interventionists might be necessary, though that view certainly is not shared by all in the field who conduct interventions.

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Comments

I agree; there are too many cowboy interventionists out there with little or no training and accountability. We need licensure to protect the public and ensure the use of clinical supervision and evidence-base intervention practices. The California Association of Alcohol and Drug Educators (CAADE) recently introduces a certification aimed at raising the standards for interventions....a step in the right direction for sure.

I am currently residing in California and I can be of service in helping get licensure off the ground please let me know. Thanks for your acknowledgment!