Wednesday, March 9, 2016

EAP Utilization Hack #25: Educate Employees with a Family Empowerment Model of Alcoholism Intervention

I phoned the National Association of Social Workers about 20 years ago and spoke with the General Counsel (top dog attorney) about doing interventions using the traditional Johnson Institute approach (the approach where a counselor sits and "lightly guides" a family in confronting a practicing alcoholic to motivate them to enter treatment using a planned meeting that does not include the alcoholic knowing its true purpose.)

The advice was: It's unethical.

Why!? The lawyer said at the time that it violates client self-determination principles because the alcoholic family member is unaware of the true nature of a surprise family meeting. This could get a licensed professional in the helping professions sued. Working for a hospital at the time, I decided upon a different route (you know how paranoid hospitals are) and developed a "Family Empowerment Model" as I called it. It was also an adaptation from Scott McMillan's work and Ron Rogers work with inpatient alcoholics and their incredible writings on addictive disease. The gist: Using influence and leverage that naturally exists in relationships can help family members be successful in conducting interventions with affected loved ones. The upside of the Family Empowerment Model is teaching others to do interventions more easily, being able to teach more people faster, and reducing risk to the intervention specialist who does not meet with the alcoholic at all. The other upside is teaching intervention skills and allowing the family members to make a paradigm shift to seeing the alcoholic as responsible for treatment and getting effective help, making it non-negotiable, giving up on making addict responsible for the illness. Once this shift is made, which must be routed in education about addictive disease and its bio-genic nature, then all family members become unified, as a runaway train to get the alcoholic enter treatment--and insist so strongly, that they use every incidental crisis that follows any failed attempt--to do it again and again until they are successful. Have you noticed after 50 year,s how few JI traditional "family interventionists" are in your community? I bet you can't name more than one or two, if any at all. Why? If the JI model is so effective, how come there aren't dozens of mental health professionals in every town practicing it? One reason: It's hell. This approach is stressful, time consuming, risky, and costly. It requires an inordinate amount of time and it is not reality based. Why? Simply put, 99% of drug and alcoholism treatment admissions to hospitals occur as a result of family members saying and doing, accidentally on purpose, what worked to motivate the alcoholic or drug addict to enter treatment. They used leverage (the power of resources possessed by one or more persons in the relationship with the addict) and influence (the weight of the relationship's value and what it truly means to the addict) as the key drivers or tools to motivating the alcoholic to enter treatment. If you made it this far in this post, here is what I want to say to EAPs: Teach this stuff to employee clients to boost your EAP utilization.

#family intervention  #alcoholism intervention