Crisis intervention counseling is short term counseling that addresses emergency situations for people in crisis. A counselor will either speak to a person on the telephone (emergency hotline situation) or face to face, but it is better for people in crisis to have the one on one counseling, which allows the counselor to get a better gauge of the client’s demeanor.
It is difficult for a counselor to deal with a crisis over the phone because they cannot read the client’s body language or see the expression on their face; however, hotlines are important because they are a means in which to calm a person down and stop them from taking drastic and irreversible action.
There are many situations that can be considered a crisis for people. These could include:
• A woman who has been beaten once or repeatedly by her spouse. She takes the opportunity to call a crisis line while her partner has left the home, or possibly while he is pounding on the door to try to get to her and hit her again. The counselor can offer telephone support while contacting 911 and dispatching them to the address, if the counselor can manage to extract that information from the client;
• Someone who lives with a person who has a drug or alcohol problem, and they need someone to speak to because they do not know what to do about the problem;
• A person who has lost their job and is facing financial problems, including foreclosure, debt collectors and bankruptcy. Perhaps this person is unable to train for a new job and has no other prospects for employment;
• A teenager who is being bullied at school and is either terrified to go to school, or is thinking of taking their life;
• A man has just found out he has terminal cancer and has two weeks to live. He is unable to tell his family about the situation and needs to speak to someone about it. He is worried about his family and how they will get by in the future without him.
While it is not the role of the crisis counselor to “fix” the problem, they do have an obligation to provide support and explain to the client that the feelings that they are experiencing are completely normal. It is also important to point out to the client that the situation is temporary and that the crisis will eventually pass.
Crisis counselors can help their clients to develop certain skills that allow them to better cope with a situation. By open dialogue and careful discussion, they can help the client to explore various solutions to the problem while helping them to deal with the stress and think in a more positive way. The problem in a crisis situation is that people have complete tunnel vision, and they forget that there are other aspects to their life that are positive.
When a person is suicidal, they are only thinking of the current situation and how to get out of it. They are probably not thinking very clearly, and they are certainly not considering the effect that their death would have on others around them, such as guilt and remorse. The counsellor would point out all of those things to the client and help them to think of other ways to work through the situation.
People in crisis can learn skills that give them the ability to recover from their situation, but it is up to the crisis counselor to provide them with the guidance and resources to accomplish this. One important aspect of the process is for the counselor to have the client face the crisis head on, and try to move past it. The longer that the situation is prolonged, the less chance that the client has of dealing with it. Sometimes it may be necessary for some sort of confrontation to take place in order for the client to move on with their life. This can be very frightening and difficult, but the counselor is there to assist with the process.
If there is a cycle of behavior that continues to lead to crisis, it is up to the counselor to encourage the client to recognize and change that behavior. One very good example of this would be a drug or alcohol addiction and the cycle of destruction that goes with the addiction. The client is routinely causing extreme emotional pain to those around them, but they refuse to take responsibility for their part in the crisis. The counselor works with the client to break those cycles and heal the pain between the client and their family members and friends. To learn more about crisis intervention, click here.