Mrs. A, Mrs. B, Mr. C, and Mrs. D are each caught up in a personal crisis. Suppose you were the emergency room physician who treated Mr. C’s hand when he broke it in the barroom fight; while you were working on his injury, he started to tell you about his worries and difficulties. Remembering Mrs. D’s husband and the fifteen-year-old girl he had picked up, how would you have helped the girl’s parents if you had found out she was not Mr. D’s sister and had to tell them about her escapade? Suppose you were a child welfare worker and had received a call from Mrs. B during one of those times when she was having intense, negative feelings toward her child. Or perhaps you were Mrs. A’s best friend, the one person she could call at 2:00 A.M., when she ran to the bedroom. How would you be able to help?
Mrs. A is apparently having serious marital difficulty. She and her husband do not have a very good relationship and seem to have difficulty communicating with each other. In addition, Mr. A is, at least emotionally, involved with another woman and appears to feel alienated from Mrs. A. She, in turn, feels frustrated and cut off from her husband. There is a sense of futility and hopelessness in what she says. She feels she has to do something. Will she try to kill herself; strike out at her husband or at his friend; run to her family or friends; or become extremely depressed, not eat, and withdraw? At this point, she chose to talk to you. If you are able to help, she will develop a way of dealing wit her immediate situation. If not, her anxiety and tensions may push her into some undesirable behavior or situation.
Mrs. B is separated from her husband, although she sees him every day. Apparently, something happened to cause him to lose his trust and faith in her. She seems to want to reestablish a good relationship with him but is unsure about his feelings and intentions. She is getting a good deal of pressure from her mother, is concerned about her husband’s drinking, and seems especially apprehensive about her feelings toward her child. Should she stay away from her husband or continue trying to work things out with him? How justified is her concern about her husband’s drinking? How should she deal with the criticism and pressure from her mother? How can she better cope with her children and with her intense feelings of anger and frustration? She has said to you, “Help me!” What can you do to help?
Mr. C is upset about several things. He is having difficulty at work and is finding it hard to cope with his financial and family responsibilities. In addition, he is angry about his daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend and would like to take his anger out on the boy. It also appears that he is quite upset about the relationships between white men and black women in general. We know that he has a broken hand from hitting a man in a bar. He feels very agitated and confused and is somewhat desperate. This anger may lead him to actually hurt his daughter’s boyfriend, or he may get into another fight. We can see that his frustration and anger are also affecting his work and could lead to his walking off the job or doing something else equally destructive. He has come to you. What will you do to help? If you are successful, he will be more able to deal with his angry feelings, and perhaps he will develop a better perspective about his life situation. If not, he is likely to take out his anger on himself or on someone else.
Mrs. D seems trapped between her feeling that she would like to get away from her husband and her fear that he might hurt himself if she were to leave. She is upset, angry, and confused about many of his attitudes, especially about his unusual behavior. She seems to feel somewhat overwhelmed by all the confusion and responsibility. She has repeatedly tried to work things out with him and also has tried to get him to accept outside help. She seems to feel that the relationship is hopeless and, in fact, as if “there is no relationship left.” If she just stays away from her husband, will he get worse, start harassing her, hurt himself? If she keeps trying to work things out with him, will their relationship improve, get worse, or will things just go on as they have in the past? She is asking you to advise her, tell her what to do, come up with a solution to her problem. Will you be able to help?
As you develop an understanding of the crisis intervention process and acquire skills and experience in crisis intervention, you will be able to help with crises like the four discussed above. You will be able to understand the conflicts involved in the interaction between the individual and the situation. You will learn to focus on the crisis, assess the individual and the situation, and effectively intervene in a way that leads to the individual being able to deal with his or her life situation in a reasonable and effective way. Help is only helpful it if helps. Your help will help.