What is a crisis intervention? How is it different then a normal intervention? Do I need professional intervention services to help with a crisis intervention or can I do it on my own? We answer these questions and more in this post.
The first step to learning about a crisis intervention is to have a clear understanding of what constitutes a crisis. Crisis is defined as a disruption of a person’s internal balance and coping mechanisms, causing distress and an inability to function.
This disruption is often caused by a traumatic or hazardous event, so the person experiencing the crisis doesn’t have the coping skills to respond effectively. In recent years, crisis intervention has become an independent field of mental health care, and the trained clinician can ease the intensity of the person’s reaction, while helping them to regain their ability to function and (ultimately) acquire new coping skills.
A crisis intervention cannot be fully described in one short article, of course, but what follows is an introductory overview of this essential therapeutic discipline.
Cascading From Crisis to Trauma
When someone is confronted with problems they aren’t able to solve, they become anxious and stressed, and this may initiate a whole series of internal responses that can be summed up as a crisis. A hazardous event or intolerable situation may create “disequilibrium,” or an uncomfortable sense of losing normal perspective.
Some people react to this discomfort by becoming unable to use their normal coping skills, and they may experience a sense of helplessness, exhaustion, or confusion. When an intervention is not offered in a timely effective way, short-term crisis can lead to long-term trauma.
Left untreated, trauma can give rise to PTSD and many years of sleep problems, unhealthy reactive behaviors and a generalized inability to function effectively.
Triggers, Signs and Symptoms
Each individual is likely to express their crisis in a unique manner. One person may have nightmares and sleep disruptions, while another may become withdrawn and refuse to get out of bed. A person may be weeping and even hysterical, or they may seem to be emotionless and indifferent to everything around them.
While family members may have enough intuition to sense that something is very wrong, it takes a skilled professional interventionist to conduct a bio psychosocial assessment and truly measure the extent of the problem. In situations where someone has had a history of crisis or trauma, whether due to emotional or external factors, an event that reminds them of that previous trauma can trigger a whole new crisis episode.
How Crisis Intervention Works
A rapid professional assessment is the first step in professional crisis intervention. After that, the interventionist establishes rapport with the person, and conveys respect through non-judgmental therapeutic acceptance of the individual as a valuable human being.
- The next step focuses on identifying what event precipitated the crisis: what was the “last straw” that led to the current situation? After that, the professional interventionist moves on to encourage the client to express feelings, to tell his or her story, to vent and express emotions.
- From there, the interventionist leads the client to put options on the table and begin to generate some possible plans and alternatives. For instance, these options might include a no-suicide pact, or participation in a drug treatment program.
- The next stage is to implement a concrete action plan, in which the client is able to develop new coping skills and move forward with constructive steps.
- Finally, the intervention process is rounded out with sustained follow-up, to monitor current stresses, evaluate progress, and make other referrals as needed.
When your family member is in crisis, it’s natural to want to simply reach out and make it better for them. Long-term healing, however, begins with reaching out for professional help. Trained intervention experts can save valuable time and help your loved one get a strong start on the path to a fresh new future.