Topic: Not everyone is suitable to do crisis intervention work as it is very demanding for the helper. Do you agree? Support your answers with relevant research.
Theoretically speaking almost anyone can be a crisis worker by reading books and practicing the skills but to make interventions effective it is not enough. James and Gilliland (2008, p. 21) stated that almost anyone can be taught the techniques of crisis intervention in a book and apply these techniques to some degree of skills, however it takes more than reading up techniques through a book and mastering the skills to make intervention effective.
Crisis has different meanings to different people; a person may feel deeply affected by an event, while another suffers little or nothing at all, for example, in a conservative society, when a teenage girl discovers that she is pregnant, it is a crisis, but a married woman who is not able to have children is another kind of crisis. As each individual reacts differently, crisis workers need to understand what crisis means to the individual from their point of view as it is crucial in crisis intervention (Coulshed & Orme, 2012).
James and Gilliland (2008, p. 3) define crises as events or problems which are intolerable difficulty that goes beyond the limit of an individual’s resources and coping mechanisms. An individual is in crisis when their important life goals are obstructed by difficulties that they could not resolve within their available resources. It refers not only to an individual traumatic situation or event, but also the individual reaction to an event.
According to Aguilera (1998) in a 1959 address John F. Kennedy stated, “When the word crisis is written in Chinese, it is make up of two characters, one symbolizes danger and the other opportunity” (p. 1). Crisis is danger because it threatens to overwhelm an individual, and it may result in suicide or mental illnesses in extreme cases. On the other hand, it is also an opportunity as it provides the client opportunities to learn new coping skills and function at a higher level equilibrium state than before the crisis.
Crisis intervention is an immediate person to person assistance. It helps people who face crisis to restore self-determination and self-confidence (France, 1996). Crisis workers assist people in crisis by searching alternatives for solutions by encouraging them to consider and clarify their thoughts, feelings and options. Aguilera (1998, p. 26) stated that the therapeutic goal of crisis intervention is to enable the individual in crisis to regain emotion equilibrium or gain higher level state of equilibrium than before the crisis.
In the event of a crisis most people tend to avoid intervention in order to stay out of trouble, however there are people who would try to intervene out of good intentions but they might not be the right person to help and may even worsen the situation. People with type A personality are not suitable for crisis work as they are very competitive, impatient and easily aroused to anger. They experience a constant urgency struggling against the clock and become impatient with delays and unproductive time (McLeod, 2011). People with such personality are not suitable for crisis intervention work as they do not have the patience to observe and understand the situation. Although speed is essential, crisis workers must have the patience to communicate with the person in crisis and not aggravate it by getting angry themselves when the problem is not solved. Hence, not everyone can be an effective crisis intervention worker.
The job of a crisis worker is to define crisis as perceive by the individual and attend to the immediate problem, which is to understand and use the fastest method to solve the problem at hand. Once the situation is in control and the person in crisis has calmed down, the case will be handed to other professionals for follow-up as crisis workers do not need to solve the root problem. In addition past experiences and the crisis worker’s personality and characteristics like life experience, poise, creativity and flexibility, energy, resilience and assertiveness affects the worker’s ability to handle different situations.
Life experiences are rich resources for a crisis worker as it comes with emotional maturity. Workers who had overcome crisis in life gain perspectives by learning from those experiences and use their experiences to help people who are in crisis like them before. Although life experience is a rich resource, it can weaken the crisis workers if it influences them in a negative way (James & Gilliland, 2008).
As the situations are often shocking, unpredictable and unexpected, crisis workers need to remain calm and steady, to provide an atmosphere that is stable and rational for people in crisis. James and Gilliland (2008, p. 22) stated that “an effective crisis worker is as steady and well anchored as a Rock of Gibraltar.” meaning that an effective crisis worker is stable and solid as stone and remains calm and collected who is not afraid, tense nor anxious during a crisis. Also, being poise is one of the significant qualities a crisis worker should have.
Different crisis requires different methods to resolve. Hence, crisis workers need to be creative and flexible when dealing with crises that are complicated and appears to be unsolvable. Although crisis workers do not have the answers to every question, they are expected to be competent in problem solving, guiding and supporting the person in crisis towards crisis solutions (Aguilera, 1998).
Occasionally, crisis workers may need to employ untraditional approaches to solve difficult situations. How creative an individual is in finding solutions during difficult situations depends on how well they have natured creativity through the course of their lives (James & Gilliland, 2008).
In addition, crisis workers need energy as crisis work is very demanding, tedious and intense who often need to assess, organize and direct situation. James & Gilliland (2008, p. 22) highlighted that crisis workers take care of themselves in both physical and psychologically, and uses wisely of their available energy.
Also, crisis workers need to have some degree of self-knowledge about their own abilities and understanding, particularly to the extent of being resilience during difficult situations, such as working with offensive or aggressive people (Trevithick, 2005). During crisis, people are often hostile and do not talk much, hence crisis workers would need to be assertive and set limits to behavior so as to keep the person stabilize and also to maintain own integrity (James & Gilliland, 2008).
As Trevithick (2005, p. 72) stated for a crisis worker to make an intervention effective, it involves being able to recommend the right courses of action, the right choice of generalist skills and the specialist interventions connected with a particular practice approach. Besides using knowledge to describe the mandate for involvement, crisis workers need to be able to set the intervention in ways that address the needs and expectations of the individual in crisis.
During threatening situations, one needs to learn how to make assessment and deal with the people involved. Hence, practicing a model for crisis intervention can help crisis workers to be aware of the components of an effective response to crisis. James and Gilliland (2008, p.37) stated that, it is worth having a model of intervention for crisis workers that is direct and effective.
James and Gilliland (2008) developed a six-step model for crisis intervention. This model focuses on listening and acting in a systematic manner helping people in crisis to regain back to an equilibrium state. The first three steps are focused more on listening while the last three steps are focused on actions.
First, defining problem is to understand the issues from view point of the individual in crisis. This requires core listening skills, congruence, acceptance and empathy. Second, ensuring safety is necessary by keeping the individual and the crisis worker safe by reducing any possibility of physical and psychological danger. Ensuring safety is a continuous part in the process of crisis intervention. Third is providing support by communicating care and emotional as well as informational support for the individual (James & Gilliland, 2008).
Fourth, examining alternatives, which is often neglected by the individual and worker, is to consider different options available to decrease the intensity of crisis and defuse the situation by selecting the best alternative that best fits the situation (James & Gilliland, 2008).
Fifth, making plans where the individual is supported to make a very detailed plan from the alternatives that are positive and achievable. Collaboration is important in order to let the individual have a sense of ownership of the plan to regain order, as France (1996, p. 48) had stated order can come to what has been a chaotic situation as the individual work on a plan; a sense of self-control and enhanced self-esteem can be attained when an individual attribute tangible progress to their own efforts and realistic hope can grow as the individual plan courses of action and experience success.
Lastly, obtaining commitment from the individual either verbally or a written commitment that can be comprehended and carried out by the individual. The goal is to let the individual commit to the plan and take definite positive steps designed for them to move towards regaining a pre-crisis state of equilibrium (James & Gilliland, 2008).
In conclusion, almost everyone can learn crisis intervention through reading books and practicing and mastering the skills in intervention, however, an effective crisis worker needs more than a strong base of theoretical knowledge and technical skills. The characteristics and the personality of a crisis worker also affect how an individual handles a crisis and it also requires great amount of energy to meet the demands of the job. Thus, not everyone is suitable to do crisis intervention work.
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