Candy Finnigan is a Nationally Recognized Interventionist and author or “Enough is Enough: A comprehensive guide to successful intervention.” Hear from Finnigan about the process of an intervention, different forms of intervention, what goes into working with an Interventionist, how to build rapport and more.
About Candy Finnigan & Her Work
Ms. Finnigan is an internationally renown interventionist, author, and addiction recovery advocate. She received her intervention training from Dr. Vern Johnson, the innovator and developer of the intervention process. She is regularly featured on A&E’s television show Intervention, conducts lectures across the country, and recently released a comprehensive book about the intervention process:
“When Enough is Enough: A comprehensive guide to successful intervention.”
Visit www.candyfinnigan.com to learn more about Candy Finnigan or for help with an intervention.
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Hi. My name is Candy Finnigan, and I’m a nationally-recognized interventionist. I’m here to talk to all of you that are going to Sober College. Good choice. One of the things I really wanted to talk to you about today is the process of intervention. There are many different forms of intervention. It was kind of created by a man named Dr. Vern Johnson, and he was an Episcopal minister. So he always recognized that the process of intervention was truly a spiritual act and a profound act of love. So I know that it certainly drifted away from that, not with me but with a lot of other interventionists.
And I think it’s important to realize that it’s a process, not an event, and it’s an important process because you’re interrupting even the families who are so used of these children, husbands, wives, you name it, grandmothers. They’re used to this behavior with addiction, and it can be interrupted and turned around. It just sometimes is impossible for you to do it by yourself.
So there are two kinds, basically, of intervention. There’s the Johnson model, and that is the model of just the family, and originally it was the first two rows of the pews at the funeral. That’s who you invited. Don’t think it’s quite so drab like it used to be, but it’s an important process. And the other one is systemic, which is invitation, and it’s a much longer process. It’s a couple of days, and so I am not one to sit around for a couple of days. I’m kind of into action girl, and so I consider myself a crisis interventionist.
But an intervention is an intervention, and I really feel that so many of you that are going to go into the field of being counselors and sober coaches and whatever else you’re gonna do, you will have many opportunities in your career to intervene on people, and so I think it’s really important that you know the process. There’s three different levels of intervening for me, and it’s what you see, what another person sees, and the consequences, if they don’t continue on with recovery, if they don’t go into recovery.
Interventions aren’t truly, to me, successful unless you do have a consequence, and it has nothing to do with love or disowning somebody. It truly has to do with there has to be an end to this behavior and to this situation that you’re really loving these people to death and it just…needless to say, there’s too many tragic situations in addiction where people think, “Well, Monday he’ll be better,” or “He’ll get over this,” or “It’s age-specific,” or “He still holds a good job, and we need the income.” And there’s ways around that.
I am a lover of letters and letter-writing, and I decided many, many years ago that after talking to a lot of people I’d intervened on that they never heard anything during these letters except for what was bad, like, “We’re taking your car. You can’t stay at our house. You never get to see your kids again.” So what I decided I would do is I have statements, and explains it in my book. And it’s the statements are, “I have seen your addiction affect you negatively in the following ways.” That’s one sheet. “I have seen your addiction affect you negatively in the following ways.” And the last statement is, “It is not all right for me to keep enabling you to live like this. If you choose not to go into recovery today, there will be consequences for your decision. I hope you accept this gift of life and will go into recovery today, not tomorrow but today, and become the person you always dreamed of.” And I always add at the end of it, “Always dream up.” That’s what I did, and that’s why I’m sitting here today.
One of the wonderful things that I really wanna stress to you. Not every treatment center is right for everybody. Somebody has trauma. You need to go someplace where they do EMDR and trauma work. If it’s sexual addiction, you need to go someplace that addresses that. If it’s eating disorders…it’s important that you put somebody that’s age-specific and also kind of drug-specific.
We were talking the other day about how difficult it is in the…in a couple of years, there’s gonna be over 12 million baby boomers. For you kids who don’t know who that is, that’s from 46 to 64. This was a generation of people in the ’60s and ’70s who had the freedom to do sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, and a lot of them quit. And now a lot of them are gonna be 70, and they think that that’s their reward for living a good life. And the pill addiction is just rampant at this point with that age group.
It’s important that you understand that you’re gonna be intervening and you’re going to be participating in a lot of different ages, and those different ages are part of your intervention. You can’t treat a 65-year-old woman the same way you can treat a 25-year-old. So it’s important that you learn who you’re dealing with, you learn what the intervention process is, that you are intervening on a deadly disease, it’s a highly respected and deadly disease by the person who is in it.
I didn’t choose to be an interventionist. To be honest with you, it found me, and I’m honored and privileged to have it be my life work. Don’t think you’re gonna be an interventionist to make a lot of money. There are a few of them, and I’m not one of them. I don’t take advantage of any situation where I can help another suffering addict, alcoholic.
You’re gonna have to learn the ropes like everybody else does, the good guys and the bad guys. But I hope all of you who are involved in Sober College and caring about getting credentials will take the high road and represent this college and yourself and recovery in the highest regard because we need to be respected, and we need to be able to have an opportunity to help people.
What’s really important to me is that you do not compromise your own values to please somebody else. I have a book out that’s called “When Enough is Enough,” and it’s a comprehensive guide to intervention, and I wrote it because I had so many people say they couldn’t afford interventionists. Not gonna get into the pay scale. It goes anywhere from $1,500 to $22,000 for an intervention. So I’m not the 22,000 one. I think it’s highly disrespectful to take advantage of people that are ill. It’s a way I feel.
Enjoy your time in school. Learn everything you can. But always remember you represent recovery. It’s really important to me. So continue on with your work and love what you do and help as many people as you can. And always remember, the more education you get and you have, the better you’ll be. Thank you.