Those of you who work in the behavioral health care field know that when a person decides to go to treatment, whether by invitation or by other circumstances, there is usually a big gulp and an essential fear of going (i.e. a “fear of flying”) about actually entering into a behavioral health care center. This trepidation is usually held by all!

Fear of Treatment Is Similar To a Fear of Flying

This is an absolutely normal response on both the part of the identified loved one as well as their family, friends, and business associates. It’s a gigantic gulp of courage one takes boarding the plane to treatment. As an intervention team, it is our responsibility to start that flight with compassion, dignity and respect. That means we assign no blame, no shame; we simply offer acceptance of where the person is when they show up.

After all, inviting someone to change is monumental. Their acceptance to this invitation is the beginning of a lifelong growth process. In this respect, recovery from substance abuse and mental health disorders is a lot like travel.

Traveling at Jet Speed

As my colleague Susan Straddler shared, “When someone travels from active addiction to treatment, they cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. They travel at jet speed. In fact, it takes time for the body, mind, and behavior to catch up to the radical life changes that recovery requires. There can be a lot of turbulence along the way.”

You may have forgotten the relief that comes at the end of a long flight when the small overhead light indicates it’s time to fasten your seatbelt, followed by an announcement: “The captain has turned on the fasten your seatbelt indicator to help us prepare for a safe landing.” Even though we’ve traveled thousands of miles, we still have to take precautions to ensure we make it to our final destination safely. So, we return our tray table to its upright position, secure our belongings, and fasten our seatbelts before the wheels touch down.

Safe Landings and Healthy Living

Leaving a treatment program without extended support can be every bit as jarring as a crash landing without a seatbelt.

That’s why we believe so strongly in developing a plan with scaffolding to create that soft landing as an identified loved one transitions back to society. As we have learned through the years, each individual and their loved ones is unique, so each transition phase is customized.

This is where Care Management is critical. Learn more about Care Management and why it’s important.


  • Louise Stanger Ed.D, LCSW, CDWF, CIP

    Writer, Speaker, Clinician, Interventionist

    Dr. Louise Stanger founded All About Interventions because she is passionate about helping families whose loved ones experience substance abuse, mental health, process addictions and chronic pain. She is committed to showing up for her clients and facilitating lasting change so families are free from sleepless, worrisome nights. Additionally, she speaks about these topics all around the country, trains staff at many treatment centers, and develops original family programs. In 2018, Louise became the recipient of the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House Excellence in Service Award. She most recently received the Interventionist of the Year Award from DB Resources in London and McLean Hospital - an affiliate of Harvard University, in 2019. To learn more, watch this video: and visit her website at