Study, Learn, Prepare to better understand the demands of Counselling people in a Crisis Situation
A crisis can refer to any situation in which the individual perceives a sudden loss in their ability to problem solve and to cope. These may include natural disasters, sexual assault, criminal victimisation, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, homicide, a drastic change in relationships and so on.
In terms of mental health, a crisis does not necessarily refer to a traumatic situation or event. It is the person’s reaction to an event. One person may be deeply affected by an event, whilst another does not suffer. The Chinese word for crisis presents a good depiction of the components of a crisis, both the positive opportunity for growth or decline and the negative idea of danger. We often think of a crisis as an unexpected disaster, such as car loss and so on, but crisis can vary in their type and severity.
Crises in the Life Cycle - Sometimes a crisis is predicted in terms of a predictable part of the life cycle. An example of this is Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development.
- Situational Crises – Such as natural disasters, accidents etc.
- Existential Crises – Inner conflicts relating to the way we want to live our life, our purpose, spirituality and so on.
There are many different definitions of crisis –
“an upset in equilibrium at the failure of one’s traditional problem solving approach which results in disorganization, hopelessness, sadness, confusion and panic” (Lillibridge and Klukken, 1978)
“People are in a state of crisis when they face an obstacle to important life goals – and obstacle that is, for a time, insurmountable by the use of customary methods of problem-solving” (Caplan, 1961)
“..crisis is a perception or experience of an event or situation as an intolerable difficulty that exceeds the person’s current resources and coping mechanisms” (James and Gilliland, 2001)
“Crisis. An acute emotional reaction to a powerful stimulus or demand. A state of emotional turmoil. Three characteristics of crisis: The usual balance between thinking and emotions is disturbed; the usual coping mechanisms fail; there is evidence of impairment in the individual or group involved in the crisis” (Jeffrey T. Mitchell, PhD)
This course comprises of the following nine lessons:
1. Understanding methods of crisis intervention
What constitutes a crisis and methods of crisis intervention?
2. Ethical, professional and legal issues
Current ethical, professional and legal implications of crisis intervention.
3. Dangers of crises and effective intervention
Dangers posed by crisis to the individual, the counsellor, and those around them. Determining effective modes of intervention.
4. Developmental Crises
Recognising and comprehending crises from a developmental perspective.
5. Post-traumatic stress disorder
Symptoms, treatment options and possible outcomes of post-traumatic stress disorder.
6. Violence and sexual assault
Effects of violence and sexual assault on the individual, and possible modes of intervention.
7. Crisis and drug addiction
Determining the relationship between crises and drug dependence.
8. Family crises
Major issues raises in family crises and appropriate methods of intervention.
9. Crises and cultural issues
Cultural influences on crisis situations.
Duration: 100 hours
- Identify what constitutes a crisis and to discuss methods of crisis intervention
- Discuss current ethical, professional and legal implications of crisis intervention.
- Explain the dangers posed by crises to the individual, the counsellor and those around them during crisis intervention, and to determine effective modes of intervention.
- Identify and explain crises evolving from a developmental perspective.
- Explain the symptoms, treatment options and possible outcomes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Describe the effect of violence and sexual assault on the individual and possible modes of intervention.
- Explain the relationship between crises and drug dependence.
- Discuss the major issues that arise in family crises and appropriate methods of intervention.
- Discuss cultural influences on crisis situations.
Some of the activities that you will undertake as part of this course are:
- Role play a critical incident debriefing session
- Familiarise yourself with a Counselling Association Code of Conduct
- Interview a counsellor from a community mental health service in your area
- View films, read or listen to stories (where possible) about personal or family crises
- Discuss post-traumatic stress disorder with a community mental health worker
- Explore physical, emotional, cognitive and social responses to sexual assault or violence
- Examine the relationship between trauma and drugs
- Interview or observe people from other cultures to identify cultural and sub-cultural responses to crises
- Explore how sub-cultural groups may require different counselling approaches
- Consider various methods of crisis intervention.
ACS student Comments:
"[This course]enhances my skills in my job in the disability field. One of the most pleasing things about ACS, is the flexibility it does allow in the way that you can lay out your assignments. They are not pedantic about little issues; but [instead focus on] the core learning that you have gained."
Darrell Blackman, Australia - Crisis Counselling course.
"It has been helpful. ..... informative and easy to read/understand. For a correspondence course it is suitable and encourages me to want to further my studies with crisis counseling."
Sandi Mäki-Soini, Finland - Crisis Counselling course.
CASE STUDY - Law Enforcement Personnel and CISD
When we phone the emergency services, we expect to be taken seriously and our call handled competently. We expect the police to rush to our burgled home, the fire service to rush to put out the fire the ambulance to save our loved one and so on. We take these services for granted, because of the workers who perform these services.
However, these emergency service staff are routinely exposure to traumatic events and daily pressures that require them to have a certain attitude, temperament and training. Without this, they couldn’t do their jobs effectively. Sometimes the stress may become too much and the toughness they need to do their jobs can impede them seeking help for themselves.
Police officers are often reluctant to talk to outsiders and may not wish to show “weakness” to their peers or other emergency service staff or the public. Police officers may typically work alone or with a single partner, whereas the fire service or paramedics may have more of a team mentality.
Police officers deal frequently with the most violent and predatory members of society. Their job requires them to put their lives on the line and face things that the rest of us only see on our televisions or in our newspapers. They are also frequently criticised by the media, the public, judicial system and so on.
Sometimes the stresses become too much. They may experience a traumatic event, such as a homicide, violent crime against a child, brush with death, death of a partner, death of an innocent civilian, a large scale crime or so on. This can result in PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). The symptoms of this will be discussed in a later lesson.
For others, there may be no single trauma, but the cumulative effect of routine stresses. In America, two-thirds of officers involved in shootings suffer moderate or severe problems. About 70% leave the force within seven years of the incident. Police are more likely to be admitted to hospital than the general population. Twice as many officers die by suicide than those killed in the line of duty.
CISD is used within the law enforcement service. The structure usually consists of one or more mental health professionals and one or more peer debriefers (fellow officers who have trained in CISD themselves). A typical debriefing will usually take place 24 – 72 hours after a critical incident and may involve a single meeting lasting two to three hours.