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Once we are sure that the individual has not neglected any important responsibilities or overlooked some important undesirable consequences of the present situation, we will help him think through possible ways of dealing with his present crisis.  With him, we have come to an understanding of what happened and of what is happening.  Now we will help him focus on what is likely to happen.  We are now beginning to make our planning skills available to him.  As he gradually begins to calm down, settle down, think things through, and plan ahead, we are nearing the end of the crisis intervention process.  The now potential is substantially reduced and the self-resolution factor is rapidly increasing.  Within the communication loop, we have effectively combined crisis color with crisis content and moved toward the goal of crisis reduction.

Ivan, age sixteen, has been telling us about a fairly complicated crisis.  He was initially very upset and felt as if everything was hopeless.  Using our understanding of communication color, we are able to get him to calm down and explain what happened.  In the last few days, things had gone from bad to worse.  He had a big fight with his girl friend, accusing her of being too friendly with another boy at school.  After thinking about it, he came to the conclusion that she is a vivacious, friendly young girl and that he is jealous of any attention she pays to other boys.  He sees that he had probably overreacted and that the fight was mostly his fault.  The problem is that she is not speaking to him now.  In addition, he flunked his English exam.  He blew up when the teacher handed him back his test paper, and she sent him down to the office.  The principal had really raked him over the coals for his belligerent attitude toward the teacher and had called his parents.  That started things at home, and he got into a huge argument with his father.  The result was that his father grounded him for a month, which means that he will not be able to go to his job after school and will not get paid next Friday.  He knows that his girl friend wants to go to the school dance next Saturday evening, but since he is not going to get paid, he will not have enough money to take her.  If all this were not enough, he stormed out of the house after the argument with his father, jumped into his car, tore out of the driveway, and ruined the transmission.  There’s no money to get that fixed, and he can’t use the car, anyway, since he is grounded.  The final straw came today when his mother learned from the mother of his best friend that Ivan had smoked some marijuana at a party two or three weeks ago.  Now she is down on him, threatening to take him to juvenile court.  It is all too much.  He feels like just taking off.

You say, “I think I might feel like splitting too if I were you.  It seems like everything is just going from bad to worse.  Do you think that will really help anything to take off?”  “I doubt it.  They would just put the police on me, and then I really would be in bad.  [You say: There’s the problem at school, the hassle with your parents, the trouble with your girl friend, and the transmission in your car.  Does that pretty well cover it?]  That’s pretty much it.  I don’t know what to do.  I’m going to have to get things straightened out somehow.  [You ask: Which of those four things needs straightening out the most?]  I don’t see that there is much I can do about the thing with Mom and Dad.  I’m grounded for a month, and that’s that.  I don’t really think Mom will take me to court, but she’s pretty mad.  She’s kind of soft, and I think I can get back in with her okay.  I could always apologize to my English teacher and see if that did any good.  I doubt it, but it can’t hurt anything.  My car?  It’s a lost cause.  I have probably lost my job, and there’s no way to fix the car without money.  [You ask: Is there any possibility that your mom and dad might let you keep your job if you didn’t do anything else for a month?]  I never thought about that.  They might.  [You ask: Have you tried to talk with your girl friend?]  A couple of days ago but not since then.  [You ask: Will you see her at school?]  I’ll see her.  Maybe I can try to talk to her.”

As we see, intervention with Ivan has moved past the initial communication color, and through the use of understanding and skills from communication content, a picture of Ivan’s crisis has been developed.  You are in the final stage of crisis intervention with him.  You and he are beginning to consider his options for doing something about his situation.  The overwhelming big problem has been broken down into several more manageable problems.  You are helping Ivan to think about possible ways of dealing with the smaller problems.  You are careful not to tell him what to do but rather are suggesting possible ways of dealing with the problems.  As we see, Ivan is a bright boy who is quite capable of understanding and thinking about his problems.  You are encouraging his capacity to focus on his problems, think things through, and consider possible ways of dealing with them.

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