7 Tips for Staging a Successful Spousal Intervention

by Matt Berry on 30 April 2015 in Drug Abuse, Life in Recovery | updated on 29 June 2016

Planning to stage an intervention for your spouse is a highly emotional experience that feels full of uncertainty. However, you’ll be encouraged to know that there is hope in what can initially seem like a hopeless situation.

According to a study published by the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, roughly 75 percent of the families who hold interventions are successful in encouraging their loved one to seek professional help.

Staging an Intervention

While you may feel like there’s no time to waste, it’s essential that you take the time to make sure you’re setting your loved one up for success and sobriety. So, before launching your spousal intervention, there are some very important considerations and decisions you’ll need to address.

Here’s a look at seven tips that will increase the likelihood of your better half saying “yes” to accepting professional help and walking into a new life of health and happiness…together.

  • Tip #1 Choose the Right Team

An intervention is not something to be performed alone. Most likely, you’ve already tried to “intervene” on your own. Choose somewhere between 3 and 8 people to participate; consider close friends, family members and colleagues who have first-hand knowledge of the problem.

  • Tip #2 Hire a Professional Interventionist

A professional interventionist is experienced and trained in addiction. They know how to prepare an intervention, respond to common reactions and set a proper tone for the event. Despite reading about it or seeing it on TV, nothing can substitute the value of experience.

  • Tip #3 Prepare and Discuss the Intervention

Team members should be prepared to speak knowledgeably regarding your spouse and his addiction. Reading a one-page letter (written by each team member) to the addict is a common practice of interventions.

Additional Intervention Tip: During the intervention, be sure to keep your words short, sweet and to the point. The last thing you want to do is ramble on and on…that becomes too overwhelming for your spouse. That’s why you need to write down what you want to say in advance and stay on point. Ideally, you want your speech to be five mintues or less.

  • Tip #4 Omit Blame, Anger and Judgment

When rehearsing for your spouse’s intervention, omit using any words or tones that may cause more confrontation than necessary. Read your letter aloud and discussing the proper tone with your interventionist before the big day. This is an important part of preparation.

  • Tip #5 Ensure It’s Unexpected

If your spouse is aware of an intervention, he may prepare a defense or avoid the situation altogether. Although it might feel sneaky or dishonest, planning his intervention in secret is one of the keys to success and effectiveness.

  • Tip #6 Carefully Plan Your Objective

The goal of an intervention is to facilitate the immediate treatment your spouse’s addiction. Typically, a treatment center will be lined up beforehand and they should be expecting your spouse’s arrival. Professional counseling or therapy sessions should also be available for you and other family members following the intervention.

  • Tip #7 Understand Leverage and Compassion

Threats and ultimatums are sometimes counterproductive and dangerous, but you must be prepared to voice the consequences of treatment refusal. Whether it’s how the refusal of treatment will affect his relationship with the children, current living arrangements or the marriage as a whole, you must remember that you wield significant leverage. When used compassionately, your spouse will ultimately thank you for showing such strength.

Remember; the point of an intervention is to help – not threaten, hurt or embarrass.

Additional Reading: Post-Rehab: 11 Things to Avoid When a Loved One Comes Home

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