What can you do when someone you care about is participating in a harmful habit or dangerous addiction, and your attempts at reasoning have failed? There is one technique often proven to be effective when all other methods have failed. It's a group crisis intervention. Why is it so effective? There is power in numbers.
Usually, personal pleas, and appeals are ignored. Even when several people confront a person simultaneously, each plea can be easily dismissed. The individual you are appealing to typically assumes you are just "butting in" on things that are none of your business. However, by coming together in a united front you become empowered. This concept was used as far back as biblical times:
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (Matthew 18:15-16).
Conducting Group, Crisis Interventions
To rescue someone from engaging in harmful habits such as drug addiction, or inappropriate behavior, there are things you can do. Here is how you can help:
Pray for wisdom and understanding from the Lord. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye" (Psalm 32:8).
Educate yourself about the persons specific addiction or problem, and explore appropriate crisis interventions programs, perhaps even visiting counseling centers and treatment facilities."The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge" (Proverbs 18:15).
Call a treatment center, and enquire about Christian counselors trained in crisis intervention procedures. "Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established " (Proverbs 15:22).
Meet with them to plan a proper approach. Things to be considered should include: counseling options, appropriate treatment programs with preadmission plans, procedures, insurance coverage, and the impact counseling will have on the individual and entire family. "Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end" (Proverbs 19:20).
Enlist the aid of family members, friends, coworkers, employers, or anyone else who may have been directly affected by the person's problematic behavior.
Confidentially, without the individual present, schedule a first meeting with these key people, and if possible, include a qualified leader. This enables each key person to rehearse what they will say about how the behavior of the individual concerned has impacted them. "A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies" (Proverbs 14:25).
Hold a second meeting, this time with the person involved present. One at a time, each key person will express care and genuine concern, followed by the aforementioned rehearsed statements. "There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health" (Proverbs 12:18).
Six P's of Appeal
In making respective group crisis intervention statements, remember these six keys:
1. The personal. Affirm rather than attack by stating how awfully concerned you are. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
2. The past. Give recent examples of specific, negative behavior you have witnessed. Proverbs 12:17 says, "A truthful witness gives honest testimony." Remember, to be brief, keeping your examples to three or four sentences. "He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit"(Proverbs 17:27).
3. The pain. Emphasize the painful impact you personally have experienced by their behavior by using "I" statements. Construct your sentences beginning with "I felt," or "I feel." Proverbs 16:23 says, "A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction."
4. The plea. Give a personal plea for them to receive counseling. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof" (Proverbs 18:21).
5. The plan. Be prepared to employ an immediate plan if counseling is accepted. Their bags should already be packed, just in case. "If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?" (Proverbs 24:11-12).
The price. Outline specific consequences if treatment is refused, such as denying them permission to come home, or be with family. "Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die"(Proverbs 15:10).
You can effectively influence a person's desire to change, not by what you say, but how you say it. The word of God says, "If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently," (Galatians 6:1).
During a group, crisis intervention:
Don't attempt confrontation by name-calling, preaching, or being judgmental. "A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue" (Proverbs 11:12).
Don't argue when facts are disputed."The Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not presents. Those who oppose him. He must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
Don't defend the offender."A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;" (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7)
Don't accept promises with no commitment for immediate action. "A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man, give thought to his steps." (Proverbs 14:15).
Don't overreact, keep your emotions under control, even if you are attacked verbally. "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:19-20).
Don't shield or run interference for the offender."A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7-8).
Don't give ultimatum's unless prepared to follow through on them. "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation" (James 5:12).
In the end they will either take the advice and immediately seek treatment or face the consequences. "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20).
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