Crisis Intervention Helpers Qualities Social Work Essay

In general, most of us will agree that not everyone is suitable to be a crisis helper because there is no one trade that can suit for all. I personal feel that it is irresponsible to give a conclusion of whether is everyone suitable or not to be a crisis helper before exploring what qualification or characteristic does a crisis helper require. Hence, in this essay, I would like to briefly discuss about the definition of crisis, resources for crisis intervention and the qualities of a crisis helper before giving my conclusion.

Crisis Definition

Although there are many definitions of crisis, Richard. K. James presented 6 in his book, Crisis Intervention Strategies. They are: 1) Crisis is because people important life goals face obstacles. 2) “Crisis results from impediments to life goals that people believe that they cannot overcome through customary choices and behaviors (Caplan, 1964, p. 40)”. 3) When people know that they have no responses to handle their situation, the situation is consider a crisis. 4) When, due to a situation, one cannot control his life consciously and it immobilizes him, a crisis is formed (Belkin, 1984, p. 424). 5) “Crisis is a state of disorganization in which people face frustration of important life goals or profound disruption of their life cycles and methods of coping with stressors. (Brammer, 1985, p. 94). 6) Crisis develops in four distinct stages: (a) a critical situation occurs in which a determination is made as to whether a person’s normal coping mechanisms will suffice; (b) increased tension and disorganization surrounding the event escalate beyond the person’s coping ability; (c) demand for additional resources (such as counseling) to resolve the event is needed; (d) referral may be required to resolve major personality disorganization (Marino, 1995)”.

Kristi Kanel uses Trilogy definition to reflect the three essential parts of a crisis. “The three parts of a crisis are these: (1) a precipitating event; (2) a perception of the event that causes subjective distress; and (3) the failure of a person’s usual coping methods, which causes a person experiencing the precipitating event to function it a lower level than before the event. ( Kanel, p. 1) “

Through Richard and Kristi crisis definitions, we realize that crisis can be a situation that has disrupted a person life cycle or a person having malfunction coping mechanism. Situation that person A has considered as a crisis may not be a crisis to person B because everyone’s coping ability is different. The situation that causes Person A to be stressful and anxious may not create the same degree of stress and anxiety for person B; hence, for a crisis worker to handle a client successfully, he needs to have sharp analysis and quick reponse. The eventual goal of a crisis helper is to help the client to return to a precise level of functioning. As a result, although anyone who is trained can be a crisis helper, he may not handle the situation well due to crisis’ versatility.

Crisis Intervention Helpers’ Qualities

The first step in cultivating the skills needed to help people in crisis is to construct a definition of crisis. Crisis worker must “tune into” a client’s level of mastering reality in order to set up realistic goals and problem- solving strategies.

In Lindemanns (1944) work with survivors of the Coconut Grove nightclub fire of 1943, he discovered that premature cessation of the expression of feelings is harmful. Therefore, it is essential for crisis workers to allow clients to express emotional actions. However, crisis workers must also ensure that the expression of these feelings is not harmful to the client or others. Crisis workers must be aware that whether the expression of emotional reactions to crisis events is it healthy (Myer, 37)

Crisis workers must be willing to share the client’s pain. Empathy that demonstrates to clients shows crisis workers understand their frame of reference in the crisis situation. (Myer 38) Care must be used to guard against allowing crisis workers’ personal issues to influence the assessment process. For example, a crisis worker, while a child, may have seen his or her mother abused by the father or another person. As a result, the crisis worker may become angry whenever abuse is an issue. Being a crisis helper, he must not handle the client’s situation personally; therefore, the ability of assessing the client thought and action is important.

Assessing clients’ cognitive and behavioral reaction to a crisis can be troublesome for crisis workers. Simply knowing that a client has seemingly done nothing or has made several unsuccessful attempts to resolve the crisis is not enough. Crisis workers must see beyond the content of what clients report to truly understand clients’ reaction. (Myer 86) Too often, crisis workers have difficulty distinguishing their perceptions from clients’ perceptions of the crisis. ( Myer 57)

After knowing clients’ cognitive reactions and the life dimension that is affected by crisis, it helps crisis workers target their intervention efforts. However, crisis workers must also evaluate the severity of clients’ reactions in order to determine if this area should be addressed first and how direct the intervention process should be. ( Myer 73)

Ethical and legal concerns are particularly relevant in the assessment of behavioral reaction because during the assessment process clients may disclose information about child or elder abuse, sexual abuse of minors, suicidal ideations, intent to harm someone else, or other equally disturbing material. Crisis workers can be caught off guard hearing this information; once it is disclosed, what are they to do? ( Myer 86)

Certain personality traits may interfere with coping and also with accepting intervention. Some people have problems accepting help or being strong. Others are paranoid or avoid conflict. These people present challenges to counselors, in contrast to clients who are open and trusting.

According to Kanel, there are factors for a crisis helper to determine whether a crisis presents a danger to his client or his client needs additional help. A trained crisis helper not only needs to be psychologically trained, his personality and experiences can also be a great asset during crisis intervention. Thus, not everyone can be a crisis helper well.

Resources for Crisis Intervention Work

Not everyone who experiences a stressor in life will succumb to a crisis state and no one is certain why some people cope with stress easily whereas others deteriorate into disequilibrium. ( Kanel, 7). But, Kanel writes that material resources, personal resources, and social resources seems to determine the level of an individual coping mechanism after a crisis. ( Kanel, 7)

Material resources are money, shelter, food, transportation, and clothing. Money may not buy love, but it does make life easier during crisis. For example, a poorer woman with minimal material resources [money, food, housing, and transportation] may suffer more in a crisis than a woman with her own income and transportation. A woman with richer material sources has the choice of staying at a hotel or moving into her own apartment. She can drive to work; she can afford to pay for counseling sessions. ( Kanel, 7)

After her material needs are met, the woman can begin to work through the crisis. Her personal resources, such as ego strength, previous history of coping with stressful situations, absence of personality problems, and physical well-being will help determine how well she copes on her own and how she accepts and implements intervention. ( Kanel, 7)

Ego strength is the ability to understand the world realistically and act on that understanding to get one’s needs and wishes met. Many times a crisis worker will be called on to be the client’s ego strength temporarily (as when a person is psychotic or severely depressed) until the client can take over for himself or herself. These clients can neither see reality clearly nor put into action realistic coping behaviors. They need someone to structure their behavior until the crisis is managed successfully, often with medication, family intervention, and individual counseling.

Social resource


Some clients may display extreme emotion to a minor incident; others may exhibit an almost undetectable affective reaction to a significant crisis. In addition, people react differently to different crises. Just because a client reacts with anger in one crisis does not mean that he or she will react with anger in another crisis (Myer 52). Client may be overwhelmed by the situation and find it difficult to vocalize any feelings; perhaps, they may vent their anger to the crisis worker. If the crisis worker is not prepared, he or she may be bewildered by the client’s display of feelings. Hence, “the intensity of the client’s emotional expression may result in the crisis worker feeling uncomfortable and out of control” (Myer, p. 37)

According to Myer, crisis worker need to be prepared to face clients’ raging screaming or sobbing uncontroably. During crisis intervention, crisis workers must use their knowledge of human behavior, sensitivity to cultural norms, and their clinical experience to make sound judgments. As a result, I agree that it is not everyone suitable to do crisis intervention work because not everyone can handle intensity of the job scope.

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