A description of the ABC model of crisis intervention cannot be complete without an understanding of the nature of a crisis itself. Inherent in a traumatic and often unexpected event is the element of human reaction, which is subject to a variety of factors. Influences such as the psyche of the individual and predisposition towards resiliency, the social and cultural milieu in which crises arise, and the nature and severity of the precipitating event all contribute to the terrifying reality of any traumatic and influential experience.
The nature of trauma is endemic to the human experience, and many are specifically rooted in various stages of development, whilst certainly others are not. It can be unequivocally stated that most, if not all human beings, shall inevitably suffer at some point in their lives a developmental crisis or trauma such as divorce, to unexpected and uncontrollable tragedies such as the death of a child. Examples of trauma may range from the unfathomable pain of victims of child abuse or sexual assault, to the collective travesties of fires, mass shootings, racial violence, imprisonment, natural disasters, or political oppression combined with military force, and that suffered by soldiers or refugees of wars.
The world is a beautiful yet brutal place and the psyches of its inhabitants malleable. Crisis intervention is an attempt to understand and respond compassionately to the psychological processes which occur in the wake of these very human, very real actions and consequences. It is an attempt to recalibrate the level of functionality of someone who has endured any form of psychological stressor. Encumbent upon crisis intervention professionals is the task of efficiently and effectively identifying the cognitions which result in unmanageable feelings. The human psyche is adaptable, and attempting to return victims of trauma to their previous levels of mental stability is the noble and valuable goal of intervention.
The impetus for and primary thrust of the ABC Model of Crisis Intervention is in literal terms an “action-oriented interview” between one in a helping role, a therapist, emergency responder, clinician, etc., and one who has been “immobilized” by a tragic and debilitating event. Its goal is short term intervention and immediate hope, help and relief. It is distinct in contrast with longterm psychotherapy whose goal is deep introspection on various levels. Crisis intervention offers a relatively short term analysis so that a client may return to their daily routines with some sense of normalcy. Effectively integrating the event into one’s “new normal” will ideally allow one to return to pre-crisis levels of functionality.
Loosely based on Jones’ ABC model of crisis management, whose three stages consist of: A, achieving contact; B, boiling the problem down to basics; and C, coping, the ABC Crisis Intervention model doesn’t always require “hard and fast” sequential application. The boundary lines of these phases may blur at times and are naturally revisited, repeated and may overlap. Within each phase, the sequencing of individual questions and meta-stages may vary and be restructured as is deemed necessary for the client’s success.
The ABC Model of Crisis Intervention is described as follows: First, upon meeting with the client, a crisis intervention social worker’s initial task shall be the establishment of an informational, mutually respectful, trusting and empathetic rapport. This is established through the verbal account of the victim/client/patient/witness. Confidentiality norms and professional standards involving human rights are to be adhered to with utmost integrity. Attending behaviors such as the use of overall empathy and focus on the client, closed and open ended questioning, active listening, clarifying, reflecting and summarizing all increase the capacity for closeness and trust. This information gathering stage also functions to...
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