Crisis intervention theory attempts to empower an individual or party that is currently undergoing a crisis situation by helping them to viable solutions that can help ameliorate the problems causing extreme tension and stress. Social workers will have to utilize principles of crisis intervention theory for many different situations, such as domestic abuse, homelessness or extreme depression, and even some entirely original crises. Discussions of the principles of crisis intervention theory with a client should focus on helping the client discover his or her own coping strategies.
Engage the person involved in the crisis in a discussion of this or her circumstance. Ask open-ended questions such as "How did this crisis begin?" or "What do you feel caused this situation?" In all cases of crisis among your clients, identifying the direct precipitating cause of the crisis will help the client formulate a positive response. Let the client express himself or herself fully without interruption to gain a fuller understanding of the client's internal state. If you assess that an emergency situation may exist, you should contact the proper authorities.
Ask the client to explain how he or she has coped with the crisis. Ask the client to explore the strengths and weaknesses that he or she possesss in the situation. This can alleviate the client's feeling that the crisis situation may be hopeless and set the person thinking on a positive course of thought that leads towards an exit strategy.
Ask the client to pick one of the causes of the crises to work on and try to fix. Focusing on one problem at a time and moving through each one, attempting to address all of the crisis factors, can be an effective way to address a crisis situation. For instance, if a financial crunch is creating stress that leads to domestic abuse, finding a better paying job or working on a monthly budget are both positive steps that can be taken to address the underlying problem.
Lead the client in conversations during follow-up appointments that focus on non-directive thinking on the subject of the crisis situation. Encourage the client to talk by asking open-ended questions that may result in revelations or a greater understanding of a subject, which can lead to an informed choice. Once the client has expressed something specific he or she would like to change, then you can become more direct in encouraging the client to implement the changes he or she has recommended.
Meet with the client on several occasions until the client feels ready to terminate the crisis management relationship. If the client feels that he or she may have successfully addressed the crisis, you can help the client to ready himself or herself to end the relationship by envisioning any potential for future crises and identifying potential strategies in the event that those situations arise.
- International Journal of Psychology: "Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Crisis Intervention," Pilar Poal; 1990
- Social Work - Another Way: Crisis Intervention in Child and Family Social Work
- US Dept. of Health & Human Services: Child Welfare Information Gateway - Crisis Intervention in Child Abuse & Neglect
- University of North Carolina: "Approaching complex cases with a crisis intervention model and teamwork," Anna Scheyett
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