This paper will provide a detailed discussion on the work done by crisis intervention counselors. It will highlight what the counselors do in terms of their duties and responsibilities. How the counselors help people and the theories they use to perform their duties will also be discussed. In addition, the paper will highlight the requirements that an individual must achieve to become a professional crisis intervention counselor.
What Crisis Intervention Counselors Do
The main duty of a crisis intervention counselor is to support individuals who are experiencing an acute mental health crisis. A crisis refers to “an event or a situation perceived as intolerably difficult that exceed an individual’s available resources and coping mechanisms” (Gilliland & Richards, 2012, pp. 12-14). A mental health crisis can result from a recent traumatic experience or prolonged posttraumatic stress disorder.
The role of the counselor is to help his/ her client to cope with their intense feelings and pain. This involves educating the client about trauma and posttraumatic stress disorders. The counselors also screen their clients to determine the severity of their crisis (Kanel, 2013).
This helps in prescribing the appropriate coping mechanism to the clients. Some of the major clients of crisis intervention counselors include victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The counselors also serve bereaved individuals and those who have attempted to commit suicide.
Crisis intervention counselors perform their duties in different ways, which include the following. To begin with, most counselors often provide emergency counseling services by communicating directly with their clients on phone. The counselors also hold face-to-face counseling sessions.
Moreover, counselors are expected to form strategic partnerships with community leaders, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to mobilize the resources that are required to help their clients to cope with their problems (Shives, 2008). Oftentimes, counselors embark on implementing community education programs to create awareness about posttraumatic disorders to reduce the prevalence of mental health and emotional problems.
Why Individuals become Crisis Intervention Counselors
The main reason for becoming a counselor is to care for others. In particular, counselors are usually motivated to perform their duties by the desire to show compassion and the gratification associated with helping others.
Apart from this altruistic motive, individuals become counselors to ensure the survival of the human species. A mental health crisis can lead to poor health conditions, which eventually cause death (Kanel, 2013). Consequently, counselors provide their services to help individuals to avoid developing chronic illnesses when facing a crisis.
How Crisis Intervention Counselors Help People
The services provided by crisis intervention counselors have tremendous impacts on individuals, families, and the society. Counselors save lives by providing the emotional support and stability that individuals require to overcome a crisis (Kanel, 2013). In particular, counselors act as compassionate healers who provide hope and encouragement to persons who feel rejected or have nowhere else to turn to.
Counselors also help families by providing them with the skills and knowledge that they require to navigate through the challenges associated with having a relative who is facing a crisis. In this case, the counselors provide advice both to the client and their family members to enhance the healing process.
In the society, the services provided by counselors help to reduce the prevalence of suicide, domestic violence, and mental disorders that often arise due to traumatic experiences. In addition, counselors reduce public health costs since they provide interventions that prevent occurrence of costly physical harm to individuals (Peters & Sawyer, 2013).
Theories Used by Crisis Intervention Counselors
Crisis intervention counselors use a variety of theories in their work because there is no single theory that can fully explain the causes of mental health crisis (Gilliland & Richards, 2012). The main theories used by the counselors include the following. First, they use the psychoanalytic theory. This theory is based on the premise that a counselor can only understand the disequilibrium associated with a crisis by “gaining access to the client’s unconscious thoughts and emotional experiences” (Gilliland & Richards, 2012, pp. 14-16).
The theory is also based on the assumption that the main factors that cause the events in one’s life to become a crisis are the individual’s early childhood fixations. Thus, the theory helps counselors to understand the developmental dynamics that explain their clients’ problems.
Second, counselors normally use the system theory to understand their clients’ problems and to suggest relevant interventions. System theory promotes a contextual approach to solving the client’s problem (Peters & Sawyer, 2013). In this case, the counselor considers the environment in which the client lives to identify the factors that explain his/ her crisis.
The environment includes the family unit, school, workplace, neighborhood, and churches among others (Peters & Sawyer, 2013). The role of the system theory is to enable the counselor to provide a more comprehensive intervention by considering the external factors that are likely to worsen the client’s mental health condition.
Third, counselors use the ecosystem theory to perform their duties. This theory is based on the fact that all the elements of a crisis have to be considered in order to develop the most appropriate solution. In particular, the theory is based on the idea that “the passage of time, proximity to the epicenter of the crisis, and what develops over time help to resolve the crisis” (Gilliland & Richards, 2012, p. 16). Thus, the theory is useful when providing counseling services to victims of large-scale disasters that impact people’s lives in multiple ways.
Finally, crisis intervention counselors use the adaptation theory. This theory is based on the premise that a crisis develops due to an individual’s poor adaptation capabilities and negative thoughts (Gilliland & Richards, 2012). Thus, it enables counselors to provide effective coping mechanism by assisting clients to develop positive thoughts and the desired adaptive behaviors.
Crisis Intervention Counselors’ Compensation
Crisis intervention counselors in the US earn approximately USD 41,920 per year (Human Services, 2014). However, counselors who are working for well established agencies or health facilities often earn more than USD 60,000 per year. Generally, the counselors’ annual income is determined by their level of work experience, academic qualification, and performance. Apart from the basic salary, most counselors enjoy several benefits such as medical insurance, bonus pay, and annual leave.
Job satisfaction among counselors tends to be high in most states in the US. The high satisfaction rate is attributed to the fact that most counselors are self-motivated at their workplaces. They work in order make a difference in other people’s lives rather than to earn a high salary (Shives, 2008). Nonetheless, counselors face challenges in their jobs because they are regularly required to work for long hours in order to attend to emergency cases.
What it takes to be a Crisis Intervention Counselor
Individuals who wish to pursue a career in crisis intervention counseling are expected to have at least an undergraduate degree. The degree should be attained in a relevant field such as Psychology and Sociology. The degree programs are expected to provide counselors with the basic knowledge and skills to understand their client’s problems and needs in order to provide the best intervention (Peters & Sawyer, 2013).
Individuals who intend to be professional counselors are also expected to attain fluency in English and an additional language that is commonly used in their community. Being bi-lingual is very important to counselors since it facilitates effective communication with clients (Peters & Sawyer, 2013).
Effective communication prevents misunderstandings, thereby allowing the counselor to gain deep insights into the client’s crisis. Crisis intervention counselors are also expected to have a good understanding of the culture of the community that they serve. This requirement enables counselors to avoid cultural biases that might prevent them from providing the best service to their clients.
Crisis intervention counselors are important in the healthcare system and the society because they help individuals to overcome the stress, pain, and difficulties associated with a severe crisis. The counselors achieve their mandate by providing their clients with the knowledge and skills that they need to cope with their situations.
They also provide emotional support to facilitate quick recovery. In this respect, professional counselors are required to have adequate training in various aspects of counseling. In addition, they are expected to be self-motivated in order to provide quality services in a compassionate manner.
Gilliland, B., & Richards, J. (2012). Crisis intervention strategies. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Kanel, K. (2013). A guide to crisis intervention. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Human Services. (2014). Range of salaries for the job.
Peters, M., & Sawyer, C. (2013). Self-efficacy of beginning counselors to counsel. Journal for Counselor Preparation and Supervision, 5(2), 1-12.
Shives, L. (2008). Basic concepts of Psychiatric mental health nursing. New York, NY: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.