Dr. Vernon E. Johnson, considered to be the founder of the intervention concept, introduced his controversial method of intervention in the early 1960s. Johnson, as many other interventionists know to be true, says the family does not have to wait for the addict or alcoholic to hit bottom before receiving help for the addiction. The Johnson model puts the emphasis on “confronting” the addict or alcoholic with little or no emphasis on repairing the family system, a system that is in part responsible for the addiction getting worse through the family’s enabling behavior. As a result of Dr. Johnson’s non-systemic approach, the Johnson model had a high rate of success in getting addicts and alcoholics into treatment. However, it had an extremely poor rate in terms of long-term success in achieving sobriety.

Confrontation and Controversy

The Johnson model was very confrontational, focusing only on the behaviors of the addict and the alcoholic. The surprise concept of this model was said to be its aggressive nature. It is amazing how much controversy the surprise model has raised, considering that addicts’ and alcoholics’ behaviors bring surprises every day. Other than the invitational model of intervention, which has its own bundle of controversy, all models have some element of surprise. No other intervention model invites addicts or alcoholics to an “intervention”; they are invited to some type of family gathering or meeting. This makes the intervention far less controversial in nature. Not focusing on the family system and only on the addict is why the Johnson Model and non-professional intervention counselors should not be used.  Anyone can talk your loved one into treatment, but it takes a skilled professional intervention to keep your loved one in treatment and staying sober.