5 Key Terms Every Crisis Intervention Specialist Should Know

If you’re interested in the social work field generally but particularly desire to assist those who are coping with crises, you should consider pursuing a career as a crisis intervention specialist. During your schooling, you’ll become acquainted with many terms that are specific to this field. Get a head start now by familiarizing yourself with some common examples.

1. Facilitative Listening

Effective crisis intervention counselors are able to connect and establish rapport with clients quickly. This is most easily achieved through facilitative listening, which is a strategy that is used to build trust and to establish relationships with others. With this approach, careful attention is paid to the client’s verbal and non-verbal cues. These cues are acknowledged to encourage easier communication. For example, you might tell a client, “I see that you’re frowning while describing that experience. Why is that?” It works both ways too, as you can and should use non-verbal cues to demonstrate that you are listening.

2. SAFER-R Model

Of the many crisis intervention techniques that exist, the SAFER-R model is among the most well-established and respected. This model is primarily used to help a client achieve a basic level of functioning following a crisis situation. The term is an acronym for the five stages that should be followed, which are as follows: Stabilize, Acknowledge, Facilitate understanding, Encourage adaptive coping and Restore functioning or Refer, depending on how the preceding steps work.

3. Adaptive and Maladaptive Coping

As a crisis intervention specialist, you will quickly become familiar with the concepts of adaptive and maladaptive coping. Adaptive coping reflects a healthy approach to dealing with stress and may include trying to learn from a negative experience and demonstrating restraint while attempting to cope with it. Maladaptive coping, on the other hand, reflects counterproductive methods of coping with a trauma or crisis. It may include deliberately not thinking about the problem in order to avoid dealing with it; denial that a problem exists; disengaging from the situation, or giving up; and developing a substance abuse problem as a means of coping.

4. Cognitive Restructuring

A common approach that is used in crisis intervention situations, cognitive restructuring is a method of adjusting “faulty thinking.” With this approach, a crisis intervention specialist challenges a client’s distorted or exaggerated concepts of reality and takes steps to help them change their thinking regarding them. For example, a client might believe that they have to handle their response to a crisis perfectly in every way and is then held back due to a fear of failure. Through cognitive restructuring, their thinking may be shifted so that they believe that it is okay if they make mistakes along the way, which makes it easier for them to cope with the situation.

5. Directive and Non-Directive Counseling

As you have probably surmised, these terms refer to the approach that a crisis intervention counselor may elect to take with a client. With directive counseling, the specialist leads the therapeutic process and gives clear, specific instructions to the client. Sometimes, they even assign homework. With non-directive counseling, the counselor lets the client take the lead. The counselor might request clarifications from the client or offer potential interpretations to the issue at hand, but they ultimately leave the next steps up to the client.

As a crisis intervention specialist, you will have the opportunity to make a lasting, positive impact on people’s lives. The work is often challenging, as you work with people who are dealing with very serious situations, but it is ultimately very rewarding too.