How to Establish an Intervention Business: A Talk with AIS President Rebecca Flood (Part I)

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The Moment of Change – Intervention Approaches for Professionals is the largest conference of it’s kind geared to interventionists. Presented by Foundations Recovery Network, the Moment of Change runs from September 28-30 at the Breakers Palm Beach Hotel. The goal of the conference is to help interventionists apply clinical skills from a broad range of professional core functions, including alternative approaches to interventions. They’ll learn different therapy approaches and the mechanics of intervening, as well as advances in the field of addiction and intervention from practice innovations, and key philosophies of intervention. Additionally, intervention entrepreneurs will have a special opportunity to discover the strategic tactics necessary to start and operate a successful intervention business – guided by one of the industry’s most renowned leaders in intervention – Rebecca Flood.

Rebecca is President and Credentialing Board Co-Founder of the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS), a network of interventionists located throughout the country and abroad. All members meet or exceed basic educational and performance standards and all adhere to the AIS code of ethics (listed at the end of this article.) In addition to her experience as an interventionist, Rebecca also brings to the table her business savvy as the CEO of a successful treatment facility in California. But that’s not all. You see, Rebecca, when a teenager, received a family intervention and became clean and sober at the young age of 15. Garnering a passion to help others, she went on to study at Johns Hopkins University, where she became the country’s youngest certified addiction counselor at 18. She studied with Dr. Vernon Johnson, the very man who essentially invented the formalized practice of intervention. Rebecca served as the in-house interventionist at Seabrook House in New Jersey and today is the leader of her of New Directions for Women.

Rebecca joins us today on BHC for the first in a three-part series to review the key points of her presentation next week on starting and building a successful intervention business. In our first online interview, Rebecca addresses how to create a strong vision and mission statement that will guide budding business leaders on how to define a unique niche in their respective markets. Next week, we’ll talk with Rebecca about how to create a solid business plan, how to establish a realistic and viable budget to support the plan, and, in our final interview the week after, how to develop a strategic marketing plan to grow the business.

And if you would like to attend The Moment of Change conference and learn from Rebecca and other industry experts, there’s still time to register for the South-Florida event at https://www.foundationsrecoverynetwork.com. To listen to Rebecca’s interview, click on the media player on this page, or read through the transcript that follows…

BHC: Rebecca, thank you for joining us on BHC. Your personal, educational and work experience is very influential in your success as an interventionist and facility CEO. Please tell us about that.

Rebecca Flood: My background is that I got clean and sober at the age of 15 as a result of a family intervention. When I was a year clean and sober, I went to school at Johns Hopkins University and got my counseling credentials and became the youngest certified addictions counselor at the age of 18. In 1979, I was trained by Vernon Johnson, [the very person who “invented” the process of intervention,] to do intervention work myself, and I’ve been passionate about it even since. I got clean and sober because an intervention got me into recovery, then I got trained in it and became passionate about it, and for the 26 years that I worked at Seabrook House in New Jersey, I was their primary interventionists. We did not contract intervention work out; we did it all in-house. And so that’s where my love and passion for intervention comes from.

When I came to New Directions for Women (in California) and started running my own facility, I ran out of time to be doing interventions on the side. And so my primary focus now is New Directions, but I’m still very passionate about intervention work. I got involved with the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS) back in 2000, about 9 years ago, when I was still at Seabrook House.

When I founded AIS, which is the Association of Intervention Specialists, it was the first time that I knew there were people like me who did intervention work world wide, and I finally had somebody to talk to because doing intervention work is quite different then doing daily clinical work. Interventions come into a family system when it’s in its worst crisis and you have to pull on all of your clinical skills to really bring everybody together to meet a common goal, which is getting that family engaged in whatever clinical care they need to become a whole and healthy family again.

BHC: Before we get to the details of what it takes to start a business as an interventionist, let’s talk about what type of person it take to be an interventionist first and foremost.

RF: I think it takes somebody that is able to work under pressure, in crisis – somebody who would typically work at an E.R. You have to have that type of energy or momentum. It’s somebody who would be a firefighter, an EMT; it’s the personality in which you work best in crisis and that you’re very goal-centered; that while the crisis is happening, you’re able to take all of the players that are in crisis and get them over the crisis, into the solution. You must have extraordinary patience and be very clinically savvy.

BHC: Rebecca, later this month you’ll be speaking about how to start and operate an intervention business at the Moment of Change Intervention Approaches for Professionals conference. Rob Waggener, the CEO of Foundations Recovery Network (which presents the conference) was recently talking about the purpose of the conference. He said that when it started years ago, it was to help give a voice to interventionists because there wasn’t a particular association at the time, or standards, or any sort of road map, if you will. How have you seen the industry change over the years?

RF: In the years that I have been involved in AIS, about five years, we started a credentialing board. That is the first board of its kind. It’s not a certification yet, but we now have a nationally recognized registration for interventionists, which requires them to either hold a clinical license or an addiction certification that is nationally recognized. In addition to that, they have to take educational classes (this Moment of Change conference meets part of that requirement) and they have to do supervised interventions. Then they present to the credentialing body their credentials and their educational units and their supervision and then they can become board-registered interventionists.

So we are slowly seeing evolution of what used to be a renegade industry, where anybody could be an interventionist. It didn’t matter, you could just hang a shingle out because you thought it was a good thing to do and because that’s what you wanted to do, and today there is a way to make sure that you do have a registered interventionist that meets certain criteria. They carry liability insurance, they have really professionalized themselves. So we’re evolving. I would say we are the babies of the addiction treatment field. We are the last part of this profession that’s evolving to the professional level that will continue to evolve.

BHC: It’s certainly on the way up – and thanks to your leadership especially. Rebecca, when you talk about the credentialing process, what should come first – the certification and education before someone decides to move toward preparing for a business plan?

RF: It depends on if your business is only going to be an intervention business. I would highly recommend that you first go get the credentials that you need in order to have that business. If you have other types of services within your business that you’re able to launch and then want to add that, you can kind of do that as you go. Or, if you just happen to be a business person that wants to run an intervention business and you’re going to hire the right credentialed people, that’s another way you could go about it.

BHC: For those that want more information about credentialing, what is a good source of information for that?

RF: They can go to Association Of Intervention Specialists.org. It’s the AIS website and that will lead to the credentialing board website. All you have to do is click on where it says ‘credentialing board’ and it will take you right to that website. The Illinois Certification Board manages our board registration credentialing for us, and we chose the Illinois Certification Board to manage it because they are the largest certifying body of addiction counselors in the country.

BHC: Once somebody has gotten to the point in which where they’re ready to start developing the tools they need to start a business, you have mentioned that the first important task is developing a mission and a vision statement. What steps are necessary to make that happen?

RF: The first thing to do in developing a vision and mission statement is always realizing that your mission is why you show up to do the work you do and the vision is what will occur if you’re successful in meeting your mission. It needs to be a shared vision and mission between all parties involved in the company. So if you are an entrepreneur and you’re a single practitioner, you can develop it on your own. If there’s going to be others involved, if you have business owners or it’s a partnership or it’s a non-profit organization with a board of directors, you need to really create something that is shared so that everybody buys into what the vision and mission is. You come together and you answer certain strategic questions, and as you answer those strategic questions, your vision and mission become very apparent to you. Once that vision and mission is really very clean and everybody is on board with both the vision and mission, you’re then ready to launch into developing your business plan.

BHC: Is there any place, either through the AIS website that you just mentioned or through perhaps other sites, where folks can see where other mission statements are if there confused about how to get moving on that?

RF: One of the best websites that I use that’s available to non profits is an organization called www.boardsource.org. You can go to that website and they have all types of information available on visions, missions, strategic planning, budgeting, marketing, both online resources and hard resources, that you can purchase through them and also through consultants that are available that can help you develop any part of your business that you may be struggling with.

BHC: Is there anything else that you’d like to say about the development of the mission or vision statement before we wrap up?

RF: I think that anybody who creates a vision and mission statement that really truly captures the heart of what they want to accomplish has the base for creating a very successful organization.

BHC: In our two upcoming talks on this topic of developing an intervention business, we’ll go over strategic planning and budgeting, financing issues and marketing strategies. We encourage readers to watch www.BehavioralHealthCentral.com for updates on when you can expect those follow up stories.

RF: Thank you so very much Robin.

Following are the AIS Code of Ethics mentioned in this article:

PRINCIPLE 1: Non discrimination

The intervention specialist must not discriminate against clients, organizations, or other professionals based on race, religion, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, mental or physical handicap, national origin or economic condition.

PRINCIPLE 2: Competence

The intervention specialist must recognize that this profession is founded on standards of competence which promotes the best interest of the client, the intervention specialist, this profession, and society. The intervention specialist must accept the need for ongoing education as an integral part of professional competence. The intervention specialist must recognize the boundaries and limitations of one’s own competencies, and not offer services or use techniques outside of these professional competencies. The intervention specialist must recognize the effect of physical and mental impairment on professional performance, and be willing to seek appropriate treatment for oneself or for a colleague.

PRINCIPLE 3: Legal and Ethical Standards

The intervention specialist must uphold the legal and accepted ethical codes which pertain to professional conduct. The intervention specialist must not use the affiliation with the Association of Intervention Specialists for purposes that are not consistent with the stated mission of the Association.* The intervention specialist who is aware of unethical or illegal professional conduct must report such violations to the appropriate certifying authority.

PRINCIPLE 4: Client Welfare

The intervention specialist must respect the integrity and protect the welfare of the person or group with whom the specialist is working. The intervention specialist must assume the responsibility for clients’ welfare either by termination by mutual agreement and/or by the client becoming engaged with another professional.

PRINCIPLE 5: Confidentiality

The intervention specialist must embrace, as a primary obligation, the privacy of clients and must not disclose confidential information acquired in teaching, clinical practice, training or consultation sessions, except when there is a clear and imminent danger to client or other persons.

PRINCIPLE 6: Societal Obligations

The intervention specialist must adopt a personal and professional stance which promotes the well being of all human beings. The intervention specialist must inform the public through active civic and professional participation in community affairs of the effect of addiction, and must act to guarantee all persons, especially the needy and disadvantaged, have access to necessary resources and services.

PRINCIPLE 7: Remuneration

The intervention specialist must establish arrangements in professional practice which are in accord with the professional standards that safeguard the best interest of the client, the specialist and the profession. The intervention specialist may not exploit relationships with clients or patients for personal advantage or satisfaction. The intervention specialist will not accept direct enumeration for making or receiving a referral of a patient.

Reprinted with permission of BHCJournal.com
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