In this essay, we will describe crisis intervention as a theory relevant to social work. We will further understand how this theory is used in social work practice. It is challenging to define crisis as its implications vary from person to person. An individual may perceive an event as a crisis while the same situation may be enjoyable to others. Crisis has been broadly defined by Langsley et al. (1968) as “the hazardous event and the subsequent reaction to that event.”
The crisis intervention theory originated through the concerted efforts of American psychiatrists in the 1960s. The pioneers of this theory are Caplan, Langsley, and Pitmann, and they believed in brief and intensive therapy to cope with a crisis rather than extended psychoanalytical and therapeutic programmes. The tenets of the crisis intervention theory are in practice today, and this theory remains a critical tool to extricate people from a potentially dangerous situation (Lishman, 1991).
Crisis intervention does not contain a single model that can be used to address different situations. However, there is a consensus amongst practitioners on the basic principles of crisis intervention. The first principle is to intervene immediately. A crisis can be a dangerous situation that could place an individual at risk and unable to cope. Hence, immediate intervention is necessary. Secondly, it is important to stabilize the victim or group of victims by providing the necessary resources and support. The goal of stabilizing is to ensure that the victim can function independently. Thirdly, the victim should be enabled to understand and perform at pre-crisis levels. This is achieved through gathering facts around the crisis, listening to the victim’s account of the events, encouraging expression and helping the victim understand the impact of the crucial occurrence. The fourth principle involves encouraging the victim to utilize the available resources with the aim of enabling independent functioning. Fifthly, the victims are encouraged to be self-reliant. The victim is encouraged to address the aftermath of the crisis and become independent again. This entails assessing the current challenges and developing strategies to cope with the traumatic event. The goal of these principles is to restore independent functioning and equilibrium to the victim (Flannery and Everly, 1999).
According to Albert Roberts (2005), crisis intervention is a seven stage process. These stages facilitate the achievement of homeostasis in trauma victims. Robert highlights that it is essential to conduct a thorough psychological and physical examination of the victim to rule out any imminent threats. The second stage entails quickly establishing a rapport and collaboration with the victim. Thirdly, the social worker must assess the issues and the reasons that caused the crisis to occur. After that, the practitioner must encourage the victim to explore their emotions to understand what they are feeling. Fourthly, crisis intervention includes creating and exploring alternatives and coping strategies. This will facilitate devising an action plan for the victim. The next stage is the implementation of this action plan which should help in restoring the victim to homeostasis. Lastly, the social worker should follow-up with the victim to ensure that they are on the path to achieving emotional equilibrium (Roberts and Ottens, 2005).
Crisis Intervention Theory Analysis
Crisis impacts people from all backgrounds and cultures, and cause intense emotional pain and suffering for the victims. The implications of the Crisis Intervention theory are far-reaching as the potential for calamities and violence is continuous. Distinguishing crisis intervention from disaster management is important. Disaster management focuses on public safety through providing shelter, food, medical services and other amenities. While disaster management ensures that victims are safe, and reunited with their families, Crisis Intervention caters to an individual’s perception of a traumatic situation. A crisis could provide an individual a life-altering chance to introspect and turn their lives around. For example, after a massive earthquake, one individual may be able to recover much faster than a person with a pre-existing mental disorder. The latter may require crisis intervention to achieve a state of emotional equilibrium (Roberts and Ottens, 2005).
According to Flannery and Everly (1999), three factors have emerged as agents of change in crisis intervention. These are ventilation and abreaction, social support and adaptive coping. In fact, some experts believe that the beneficial results of crisis intervention may be due engaging in conventional agents of change such as group cohesion and sharing the negative impact of trauma. Adaptive coping provides victims with the tools and skills for cognitive appraisal and skill development (Flannery and Everly, 1999).
Various studies validate the efficacy of crisis intervention. However, the complete long-term effect of this theory cannot be understood. Roberts and Ottens (2005) state that crisis intervention needs to be fine-tuned ensuring that adequate number of booster sessions are implemented. Further, it is crucial that practitioners understand the best-practices used in crisis intervention. Social workers are sometimes inadequately trained to deal with traumatized victims. This could lead to potentially fatal outcomes. Further, crisis intervention does not help people who experience a continual crisis. Also, this model does not provide solutions to problems such as social isolation and poverty.
A report on Norfolk’s mental crisis care operations highlights that 680 crisis intervention users stated that the service was unsatisfactory. Conversely, crisis intervention professionals felt that they were providing the best possible services with limited resources and understaffing. The BBC reported a 70 percent increase in the requirement for crisis intervention services without a comparable increase in funding. Another aspect highlighted in this study was that victims found it difficult to find emergency crisis assistance when already in a traumatized state (Scott, 2017).
The increase in natural disasters, terrorism, and violence has seen a phenomenal rise in recent years. This necessitates the implementation of robust crisis intervention programmes spearheaded by trained professionals who have adequate resources at their disposal. Crisis intervention has been proven to be an excellent front-line tool to deal with victims of trauma. However, the lack of funds and over-worked social workers may impact the efficacy of this model.