From One SA Pro to Another: Wise Intervention — What to Say When Times Get Tough

Have you ever had a student who needed a Wise Intervention?

When someone says the word ‘intervention’, people might first think of a major event such as confronting an addict. But Gregory Walton, associate professor of psychology at Stanford University, touts an exciting development of a different type of intervention – the Wise Intervention. He says it’s more ordinary, while actually being more precise.

“These interventions are much like everyday experiences,” he writes in an article called New Science of Wise Psychological Interventions. “They aim, simply, to alter a specific way in which people think or feel in the normal course of their lives to help them flourish.”

Walton cited examples of wise interventions in civic behavior, close relationships, health, and education. Essentially, they halt a moment of negativity, or veering off-course, to re-correct and gently remind someone to get back on track, positively.

Renee Missikos, a coach at InsideTrack, adapted the concept to create another tool to help her students succeed – not only in school, but in life. Her goal is to change their thinking when times are tough. She asked her students to give her a phrase that she could repeat back to them at a difficult time to help them work through issues – a Wise Intervention in a coaching capacity.

One of her students gave her the phrase “suffer today to rejoice tomorrow”, and during a difficult time when he was struggling with school and an illness, she repeated his phrase back to him to help mold his thinking in a more positive direction.

Having a phrase to use when times are difficult or employing wise interventions in other ways – whether as a guided exercise, a question, or purely as information – can serve as a valuable tool for support professionals to shape their students’ success. Renee’s wise intervention served as a positive and pivotal moment: at the end of the semester, which her student successfully completed, he sent her a thank you note.

What interventions can you wisely create?

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