Crisis intervention theory states that a person in crisis will typically move through the following stages, and the professional helper will require to address different tasks at each stage.
- Identification of crisis
This needs to be service user led. Is this situation being perceived as a crisis?
- Identification of the significance of this event for the service user
Does it repeat an experience from another time in their life? Does the experience of crisis suggest a repeating pattern in this person's life? Does the apparent trigger actually disturb other aspects of their life's equilibrium? E.g. — going into hospital might be the event but the crisis might actually be in finding appropriate child care.
- Talking through/release of tension
By offering the opportunity for the expression of feelings within a listening context, the worker is assisting the service user to gain emotional relief. This in itself can relieve some of the manifestation of the event.
- Reality testing/cognitive restructuring
Sensitive challenge of the extent and reality of the presented difficulty. There can be a tendency for the individual in crisis to project forward in time, catastrophising repercussions which are not based in reality.
- Identifying tasks, prioritising problems, setting achievable goals
Aim to involve the service user in some aspect of the tasks to be carried out in order to strengthen cognitive confidence in their coping abilities. Crises produce adrenalin in both the worker and the service user. Undertaking tangible tasks can make constructive use of this energy whilst simultaneously creating a positive release.
- Build upon existing strengths and strategies
but also suggest additional/alternative options for managing the situation. This might entail a directive but empowering approach to assist the individual to value and access their previous strengths which they might lose sight of in the midst of the crisis but also to create alternative options to their predicament