Crisis Intervention: A Social Interaction Approach (6)

Part II Crisis Communication

Chapter 6 The Communication Loop

The crisis intervention process proceeds on multiple levels. For those with little understanding of crisis and crisis intervention, the process appears to be relatively easy and sounds a lot like common sense. It has been said, though, that common sense represents the accumulated wisdom of the ages, and skillful intervention is not nearly so easy and casual as it might appear. When someone asks my kids what their daddy does, they usually reply that “he just talks to people.” Their daddy has more fancy names for it: counseling, psychotherapy, play therapy, and even crisis intervention. Nonetheless, the kids are right. In crisis intervention, most of what we do is “just talking to people.” At least, that is what it looks like to an observer. As we shall see, though, our talking to people is but one level of what is really going on in the process. We are helping the individual develop and maintain crisis focus. We are coming to an understanding of the precipitating event while developing judgment about the now potential and the self-resolution factor. We are developing a crisis definition and formulating intervention hypotheses. Throughout the process, we are evaluating our intervention and are being alert to potential cumulative effects and other unseen effects. We are actively involved with the individual in the process. Activities at this level tend to have a thinking/doing quality. At another level, we are carefully and caringly listening to the individual’s communication to us. We hear him, we are trying to understand, and we want him to know we care. The understanding that comes through listening is, however, not passive. We are actively involved with the individual, affecting and being affected by him, and intentionally and intently working toward his being able to deal with his difficulties. As we talk about crisis communication, then, we will see that our talk is really not just talk. It is a special kind of communication that requires sensitivity, self-awareness, compassion, and concern for the individual and honest empathy with his crisis involvement. …