Issues in Community Crisis Counseling
North Carolina Central University
Crisis counseling is a time-limited program designed to assist persons affected by trauma, return to their pre-trauma level of functioning. Crisis counselors utilize several techniques to perform these services. This paper offers a clearer understanding of the crisis counseling field and the counselors who conduct it.
In the past twenty years, crisis counseling has evolved into relatively short-term intervention with individuals and groups experiencing psychological trauma due to a traumatic experience. This type of intervention involves classic counseling goals such as: assisting people in understanding their current situation and reactions, assisting in review of options, providing emotional support, and encouraging linkage with other individuals and agencies that may assist the individual (Brock & Lewis, 2001). The aim of the assistance is to help people deal with the current situation in which they may find themselves. It draws upon the assumption that the individual is capable of resuming a productive and fulfilling life following a traumatic experience if given support, assistance, and information at a time and in a manner appropriate to his or her experience, education, developmental stage, and ethnicity (Everly & Flannerly, 1999). The object of most crisis counseling programs is to help people recognize that their emotional reactions are normal, grieve their losses, and to develop coping skills that will allow them to resume their pre-trauma level of functioning. Development of enhanced coping mechanisms and skills are the desired long-term outcomes (Everly & Flannerly, 1999). Description of Crisis Counseling
Traditionally, crisis counseling is short-term; it is usually no more than 1 to 3 months. The focus is on a single or recurrent problem that is overwhelming or traumatic. Crisis counseling provides education, guidance, and support ( (Federal Emergency, 2003). It differs from traditional mental health practices in many ways. Traditional mental health practices are primarily office based and focus on diagnosis and treatment of a mental illness. It examines content and tries to affect the baseline of personality and functioning. Traditional mental health practices also have a psychotherapeutic focus and it encourages insight into past life experiences and their influence on current problems (Slaikeu, 1990). In contrast, crisis counseling is primarily home and community based with a focus on assessment of strengths, adaptation of existing coping skills, and the development of new ones. It seeks to restore people to pre-trauma levels of functioning and accepts content at face value. Crisis counseling has a psycho-educational focus, and it strives to validate the appropriateness of reactions to a traumatic event (McCormick & Poland, 2000). There are many different definitions and descriptions of crisis counseling, regardless of the theory, there are five universal elements that a counselor can utilize to help people face and move past distressing and traumatic events in their lives. 5 Elements of Crisis Intervention
Most people have a natural ability to recover from a crisis provided they have the support, guidance, and resources they need. In most cases, a crisis involves normal reactions, to an abnormal situation (Bemak, Carpenter, & Keys, 1999).Confrontation through information and discussion may be an important part of crisis intervention (Federal Emergency, 2003).Effective crisis counseling provides information, activities, and structure that help clients recover and move past the crisis. Creating a safe place
The most important aspect of crisis counseling is to provide a space that will allow clients to express, explore, examine, and become active in ways that help insure the...