Glossary and references

Glossary of terms

A crisis is a perceived turning point or upset in a person’s psychological equilibrium. Crises may be precipitated by a single overwhelming catastrophe or a series of smaller events. A crisis is not necessarily an emergency or urgent situation. Crises may emanate from events external to the person or from internal dynamics — though there is often an interaction.
Crisis intervention
A method of social work practice which focuses on ways in which personal crises can be managed and harnessed to promote positive growth and change.
Coping strategy
A set of actions or plan adopted to overcome perceived difficulties or threats and to meet needs.
Cognitive restructuring
The process of challenging and changing distorted or exaggerated views of reality.
Defence mechanism
An unconscious way of protecting the self from anxiety. A key concept in psychoanalytic theory.


  • Caplan, G. (1965) Principles of Preventive Psychiatry. London: Tavistock.
  • Couslhed, V. and Orme, J. (1998) Social Work Practice: an introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • Erikson, E. (1965) Childhood and Society. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
  • O’Hagan, K. (1994) “Crisis Intervention: changing perspectives”. In C. Harvey and T. Philpot (eds), Practising Social Work. London: Routledge.
  • Pierson, J. and Thomas, M. (2002) Dictionary of Social Work. Glasgow: Harper Collins.
  • Rapoport, L. (1970) Crisis intervention as a mode of brief treatment”. In R.W. Roberts and R.H. Nee (eds), Theories of Social Casework. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Thompson, N. (1970) Crisis Intervention Revisited: a guide to modern practice. Birmingham: PEPAR Publications.