Intervention Models

Johnson (Surprise) Model

Dr. Vernon Johnson saw the value in family and loved ones being used in an intervention. During the 1970s, this was something new and very unconventional compared to other Intervention methods. Instead of family members “ganging up” on the addict and blaming them for hurtful feelings as well as memories, Dr. Johnson encouraged caring as the priority.

He asked the family members to confront the addict with letters that focused on how much they care for the addict. He had the family members write letters to the addict giving them a list of consequences if sobriety or rehab was not sought out.

The main purpose behind the Johnson Method is to confront the addict by motivating and encouraging them to change their lifestyle for the good of not only themselves, but of the family around them.

To continue to throw blame and insult only causes the addict to break down and ultimately stop listening; the idea of sobriety is no longer an option because their defenses are so high that nothing will convince them to change their mind. Dr. Johnson wants the addict to be confronted but in a way that their defenses are low, recognizing that an addict’s defenses are already raised when they are confronted in a surprise way.


An invitational and multiple stage process of intervention, that supports and leads the individual and family towards healing, treatment and recovery, including continuing care before during and after the initial process to support all aspects of recovery and help for the entire network of people involved.
Originated by Linking Family Systems, LLC

Systemic Family Model

Most people who hear the word “intervention” think of conspiratorial meetings and secret discussions that lead up to an emotional, and often hostile, confrontation that humiliates and shames both the chemically dependent individual and the family members.

Unlike traditional confrontational intervention models, the Systemic Family Intervention is invitational. In this model, the entire family is invited to work together to address multiple issues in a respectful, safe, and collaborative environment. The family is then able to utilize new skills to help themselves and the dependent family member accept treatment.

The focus of Systemic Family Intervention is systemic health. As the people in the system get healthy the addicted person must change as well. As part of the process, everyone involved learns about addiction. Everything changes and the addicted person gets help through treatment – later rejoining a healthy family system.

The process usually takes place over 2 days (often on a weekend). Many families say that it is the most important thing they have ever done as a family.
Originated by Wayne Raiter, Executive Care Inc.