Crisis Counseling

Crisis Counseling for FamiliesIn mental health terms, a crisis refers not to a traumatic event or experience, but to how an individual responds to the situation. The events that trigger this crisis can run the gamut of life experience, from developmental hurdles (such as going through puberty) to natural disasters to the death of a loved one. Crisis counseling can help individuals deal with the crisis by offering assistance and support.

Like psychotherapy, crisis counseling involves assessment, planning and treatment, but the scope of is generally much more specific. While psychotherapy focuses on a wide range of information and history, crisis assessment and treatment focuses on the client’s immediate situation including factors such as safety and immediate needs.

While there are a number of different treatment models, there are a number of common elements consistent among the various theories of crisis counseling.

  1. Assessing the Situation – The first element of crisis counseling involves assessing the client’s current situation. This involves listening to the client, asking questions and determining what the individual needs to effectively cope with the crisis. During this time, the crisis counseling provider needs to define the problem while at the same time acting as a source of empathy, acceptance and support. It is also essential to ensure client safety, both physically and psychologically.
  2. Education – People who are experiencing a crisis need information about their current condition and the steps they can take to minimize the damage. During crisis counseling, mental health workers often help the client understand that their reactions are normal, but temporary. While the situation may seem both dire and endless to the person experiencing the crisis, the goal is to help the client see that he or she will eventually return to normal functioning.
  3. Offering Support – One of the most important elements of crisis counseling involves offering support, stabilization and resources. Active listening is critical, as well as offering unconditional acceptance and reassurance. Offering this kind of nonjudgmental support during a crisis can help reduce stress improve coping. During the crisis, it can be very beneficial for individuals to develop a brief dependency on supportive people. Unlike unhealthy dependencies, these relationships help the individual become stronger and more independent.
  4. Developing Coping Skills – In addition to providing support, crisis counselors also help clients develop coping skills to deal with the immediate crisis. This might involve helping the client explore different solutions to the problem, practicing stress reduction techniques and encouraging positive thinking. This process is not just about teaching these skills to the client, it is also about encouraging the client to make a commitment to continue utilizing these skills in the future.

In these times, there are few of us who are not struggling to balance the demands of our lives. Even those of us with financial resources and family support sometimes need some assistance with

  • Daily pressures
  • Grief that comes from loss
  • Finding self-fulfillment
  • Creating healthy relationships
  • Overcoming addictions
  • Raising children who have the resources to make their own strong choices
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