Multiple murders at the hands of a lone gunman typically characterize mass shootings in the United States. The cold-blooded murder of innocent people never fails to traumatize the survivors or the loved ones left behind. Mass shootings add another trauma-inducing layer as the murders were committed in a public place or an area wherein people share memorable moments. As a result, a whirlwind of feelings and tangled emotions bring about desperate emotional and psychological needs. In the case involving a Vietnam War veteran, conventional crisis intervention frameworks are deemed ineffective due to the challenges and constraints that crisis counselors encounter in the field. In traumatic events like deadly mass shootings, it is best to use the Hybrid Model of crisis intervention.
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Applying the Hybrid Model
It is easy to understand how linear models became popular over the years. One can make the argument that human beings tend to think in a linear model. It seems logical to follow a step-by-step process compared to a randomized set of instructions (Kanel, 2015). A do-it-yourself kit or an instructions manual on how to build a kite may look and feel strange if instructions were not described linearly. However, crisis events do not follow a neat and predictable timeline or script (James, 2016). It must be made clear that the development of crisis intervention frameworks occurred in the context of an academic setting or in the controlled environment of a clinician’s office.
It did not take long before the need for a new crisis intervention framework became imminent (James, 2016). Crisis intervention counselors were compelled to develop a new tool after acknowledging the fact that in a crisis event the people involved are less likely to respond to a generic intervention strategy.
Mass shooting survivors need a flexible crisis intervention framework. Nevertheless, it is also important to develop a system that is characterized by a certain level of predictability (Corcoran & Roberts, 2015). For example, crisis intervention counselors must be able to jumpstart the intervention process and bring it to a measurable and practical end. The amalgamation of the linear and the random becomes evident through the Hybrid Model as described below:
- Overarching Default Task A: Ensure Safety;
- Step 1: Engaging or Initiating Contact;
- Step 2: Exploring the Problem;
- Step 3: Providing Support;
- Step 4: Examining Alternatives;
- Step 5: Making Plans;
- Step 6: Obtaining Commitment;
- Overarching Default Task B: Follow-up (James, 2016).
The professor in the mass shooting must learn how to integrate Maslow’s principles and the Hybrid Model. Thus, the professor needs to initiate the process, but at the same time, he must also understand how to bring the process to a practical endpoint.
The professor must also consider Maslow’s assertion stating that it is important to prioritize basic human needs because the failure to satisfy basic needs makes it impractical to utilize resources allocated for higher needs. In this case, the students are upset, and many of them were terrified of the gunman. The application of Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation leads to the following: “experiencing higher levels of need satisfaction will have lower levels of tension and will not be in a state of deprivation” (Acton & Malathum, 2000, p. 297). In other words, the professor is going to experience a greater level of success if he will not ignore the patient’s or victims’ basic needs.
After a quick survey of the damage created by the gunman, the professor must consider the default task as well as the basic needs of the survivors. In this particular incident, the default task aligns with the survivor’s basic needs. After selecting the first recipient of the intervention process, the professor must ensure the safety of the survivor. At this point, ensuring the safety of the counselee becomes the top priority especially if the counseling session is being conducted within the school’s premises. In other words, objects and specific areas may easily trigger traumatic memories.
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The professor must also take note that the need to pacify or ensure the safety of the counselee is an action that may also serve as the engagement or initiation step. After settling comfortably into the roles of counselor and counselee, the next step calls for repeated assurance of safety and support. Thus, it is prudent for the professor to jump into Step 3 before going back to Step 2. It is best to ensure continuous support to assuage the fear of abandonment or isolation. Anticipating any form of paranoia is an assumption that the professor must make considering the perceived slow response of law enforcers and other first responders to the scene of the crime.
The application of Step 2 and Step 4 occurs only after the counselee is assured of safety and support. The professor must apply Step 5 of the Hybrid Model after clarifying the problems encountered by the counselee. At this stage, the details of the intervention strategy are made known to the counselee. This is comprised of possible short-term and long-term solutions. For example, short-term solutions may cover the need to meet with the professor regularly. Long-term solutions may cover the need to look into psychiatric treatment or family counselors.
After discussing the limitations and benefits of certain solutions, the professor applies Step 5 of the Hybrid Model. At this point, short-term and long-term solutions are identified. Extended discussions regarding the realistic application of the said solutions may help the counselee internalize certain expectations. Once the details of the issue and the solutions had been clarified, the professor must ensure the successful implementation of the last and final step. It is of critical importance to obtain the student’s commitment to go through the process of healing and restoration in accordance with the agreed plan of action. At the end of each counseling session, it is also imperative to plan ahead in order to agree on acceptable follow-up plans.
The Integration of Maslow’s Model
The integration of the Maslow model in the application of the Hybrid model was clarified when the professor acknowledged the need for satisfying the basic needs of the survivors. Thus, when the professor started the initiation process or Step 1, the professor did not only try to get to know the names and personal information of the students that were traumatized by the event. The professor went further by ensuring the safety of the students. Furthermore, the professor was not compelled to use a linear process, as he had the freedom to skip or revert back to a particular step. This is a good example of the integration process.
Crisis events like mass shootings leave behind a large number of survivors that are also seen as victims of the said crime. They need crisis counselors skilled in the application of appropriate intervention strategies. However, conventional intervention strategies may not work, especially in the application of a counseling method based on a linear model. In this case, the integration of Maslow’s model and the Hybrid model paved the way for the application of a practical approach that ensured the delivery of an effective counseling method.
Acton, G., & Malathum, P. (2000). Basic need status and health-promoting self-care behavior in adults. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 22(7), 796-811.
Corcoran, K., & Roberts, A. (2015). Social workers’ desk reference. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Kanel, K. (2015). A guide to crisis intervention. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
James, R. (2016). Crisis intervention strategies. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.