Helping in crisis is a discipline that lends support to others in order to make their lot in this life more effective. Thus, the helper operates in a balanced manner that recognises the Wholeness, independence and resourcefulness of the helpee.
Stress reaction, a condition characterised by physiological tension and persistent choice conflict, often puts a subject under pressure to reduce the tension and achieve comfort and equilibrium. A stress experience sets up a more pervasive and less intense condition than a crisis, in the subject, but it may continue for an unlimited time, with or without provoking stimulus (Janosik, 1993). Numerous studies have linked stress to ill health (Monat & Lazarus, 1991). A crisis is a state of disorganisation that ushers a subject into a frustration of important life goals or a profound disruption of their life cycles and methods of coping with stressors or stressful events. The subject’s feelings of fear, shock and distress about the disruption, not the disruption itself, is usually referred to as the crisis. crisis often operates within a limited time frame, usually lasting not more than a few weeks (Janosik, 1994; Slaiken, 1990).
The likelihood of a positive outcome is enhanced if help is offered early, at the onset of the crisis (Parad, 1965). Early help not only diminishes the probability of the subject harming himself or herself but it also galvanizes the person’s motivation to change or grasp at constructive solutions. Hence, helping in crisis is something that should be put into execution early enough, for constructive ends.
A family in crisis must be helped as a unit, for a desirable outcome to result.
The following strategies can be applied to get a subject back to a pre-crisis level of responding and then onward to stimulate renewed growth, independence and self-confidence. Helping in crisis comes off successful when the subject is motivated to resolve the state of crisis and achieve renewed equilibrium.
Give the victim an opportunity to describe the traumatic event and experience the remaining feelings associated with the event. This post-traumatic stress debriefing has a set purpose of preventing the serious effects of the trauma from appearing later – known clinically as P. T. S. D (posttraumatic stress disorder). Allowing the affected person to vent their feelings rather than deny or repress them is the helping strategy here. Thus, helping in crisis is a means of curtailing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Being with the subject in an attentive way during periods of stress provides a measure of comfort to him or her. Listening to the subject ventilate feelings brings into existence a powerful supportive effect.
Getting a traumatised subject to start talking about his or her feelings and hopes is a necessary step in working with Hope as a helping tool. Hope is the main antidote to despair and also proves effective as the source of relief from tension and frustration of unmet goals and uncertain future.
Examine the subject’s self-defeating assumptions and catastrophic logic with a view to encouraging him or her to logically challenge and disprove them. The helper’s role of offering suggestions marshals the subject’s initiative and motivation for self-improvement. The helpee is encouraged to question the cherished beliefs and assumptions and live through the discomfort of realising that his or her thoughts and values have been flawed. The first step to challenging your self-defeating negative thoughts and substituting them with more self-enhancing positive thoughts is to remind yourself that you are in control of your life and that this control includes your thoughts. The next step is being aware of what you are saying to yourself through rigorous self-examination questions like “what am I telling myself that is making me upset?” It is helpful to write down two self-messages critical of you and thrilling to self-defeating results. Then, examine the self-defeating statements for flawed or distorted reasoning, overgeneralisations that draw a false conclusion from one incident. To continue with, a restructuring or reframing of the negative statement unearthed in step 2 is given event. Thus a negative statement like “I’ll never be able to find a satisfactory relationship could be reframed as “even though it will be difficult for me to leave this relationship, I’ll probably find others in future.” Step 5 is to persist in trying to change deep-seated negative thoughts. In addition, one could apply the self-command “Stop it,” Whenever negative thoughts assail the mind.
Avoid the overuse of reassurance that makes you sound shallow to a traumatised subject. Platitudes like “everything will come out in the wash, so don’t fret” or “everything has a silver lining” often fails to hit the subject’s fancy.
Give event to the true goals of reassurance. Reassurance fosters hope and expectations of future rewards. The essence of reassurance is to increase the subject’s confidence, galvanize their strengths, cut back their anxiety to optimum working levels or reinforce the desired behaviour. You can reassure a subject with the following comments: “you are competent,” “you can be reasonable,” “you can solve your problem,” “you can feel better.” Reassurance also comes into being by you expressing approval of a helpee’s constructive statement. Thus, the remark, “that’s sounds to me like a good idea – very thoughtful” may come in useful here. Unfurling pictures of predictable outcomes also come off successful as a means of reassurance. These statements are effective in this regard: “you may probably find yourself a bit moody the next couple of days; this happens sometimes, so don’t worry about it,” it will likely continue to be rough for a while, but you will be able to handle it all right.” Telling traumatised subjects that their problems have solutions, that others have grappled with a similar difficulty and triumphed, or that annoying symptoms disappear at fairly predictable times motivates them to tolerate their momentary distress. Effectively helping in crisis moments often stands with these reassuring skills.
“Sweetening” or distorting the hard truth is unhelpful. A negative evaluation of work performance often means that one has been unsatisfactory at work. Nothing is gained by assuring the subject that people do not understand him or her or that some “miracle” is going to happen. Helping in crisis admits of a clear assessment of the facts.
Assist a subject undergoing trauma to accept the unacceptable.
To inspire more growth and facilitate the restoration of self-esteem in the subject, encourage him or her to evaluate objectively genuine feedback about his or her work, standing as a parent, wife, husband, boss or colleague. This is beneficial in helping in crisis occasioned by disruptions in family and work life.
Do the effective by giving full play to a realistic perception of the crisis event, providing support to reduce the tensions associated with the crisis or conflict, weighing all the coping alternatives and motivating the helpee to make a commitment to action geared to achieve reasonable equilibrium, integration and future growth. People in crisis are often hallmarked by a narrowing of perceptions; very few solutions and alternatives dot their horizon. In view of this, it is quite helpful to suggest some possibilities and also draw out some ideas from the subject.
Motivate the helpee to put in execution the tensing and relaxing of large muscle groups or focusing on the breathing to induce relaxation. Physical tension usually attends stress reactions, and comfort often hinges on working on muscle tension.
When a subject has achieved a measure of equilibrium through the application of the aforementioned processes, he or she can then be helped to identify inherent strengths and plan a strategy for releasing the growth potentials. The subject is encouraged to develop his or her own growth goals. Helping in crisis seeks to bring home to the helpee effectiveness.
Helping in crisis is to offer encouragement, love and security desired immediately by persons suffering from loss.
Janosik, E. (1993). Crisis Counselling; A Contemporary Approach. 2nd ed. Boston: Jones/Bartlet.
Monat, A., and Lazarus, R., eds. (1991). Stress and Coping: An Anthology. 3rd ed. New York: Columbia University Press.
Slaiken, K. (1990). Crisis Intervention: A Handbook for Practice and Research. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Parad, H. (1965). Crisis Intervention: Selected Readings. New York: Family Service Association of America.