What Are the Responsibilities of a Crisis Intervention Counselor?
Crisis counselors often work at call centers to provide emotional support and referral information.
- 1 [Crisis Interventionist] | Description of a Crisis Interventionist
- 2 [Crisis Counselor] | Characteristics of a Good Crisis Counselor
- 3 [Telephone Crisis Counselors] | Job Descriptions of Telephone Crisis Counselors
- 4 [Mental Health Counselors] | The Role of Mental Health Counselors
Crisis intervention counselors are trained mental health professionals who help people in distress. They might counsel people in danger of harming themselves or others; support those undergoing acute crises, such as terror attacks or natural disasters; and help clients dealing with other distressing issues, such as grief, loss and bereavement. Crisis counselors work in various settings, including telephone crisis counseling centers, schools, mental health clinics and humanitarian aide organizations.
In many cases, crisis counselors conduct face-to-face assessments with clients in their natural settings to determine their specific needs. Telephone crisis counselors may perform brief assessments over the phone. Clients in crisis may require immediate referral to medical services, assistance with concrete needs, such as food and clothing, or they may be in a state of psychological shock and require psychiatric intervention. Crisis counselors usually meet with clients on individual, couples or family bases to perform assessments. In some cases, they may also meet with groups to perform group assessments, such as in cases of community crises.
Crisis intervention is a short-term form of treatment to help clients deal with the immediate aftermath of a crisis situation. In most situations, counselors provide brief counseling services to help individuals and communities regain a sense of safety, return to their normal level of functioning and to prevent psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Crisis intervention is not intended to replace long-term counseling or psychological and psychiatric treatment. Crisis counselors usually counsel clients for brief periods of time to provide support and to encourage survivors to discuss their experiences.
Clients in crisis often enter a state of psychological shock and withdrawal as a way of handling the aftermath of the disaster or crisis situation. They may be momentarily unable to arrange for their immediate needs. A crisis counselor may provide temporary forms of advocacy to help clients meet these needs. This may include explaining client needs to service providers or helping clients apply for social services. But the ultimate goal of a crisis counselor is to help her clients regain sufficient levels of functioning so that they are able to resume advocating for themselves.
Providing accurate and timely referrals is another important responsibility of many crisis counselors. Crisis counselors often do not have the time, resources or expertise to assist clients with certain needs, such as psychiatric services or housing. They must be well-informed about community resources and different types of governmental assistance available to survivors of certain crisis situations. After assessing a client’s needs and providing brief counseling, a crisis counselor refers her client to the appropriate resource for continued assistance and treatment.
About the Author
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor s degree in music.