Everywhere one looks it seems reports of new crises are popping up. Between wildfires in Australia, school shootings, floods, and earthquakes, crises are all around our world. Each of these crises can affect a large number of lives. Living through these types of experiences can have a lasting impact on the mental health of individuals and communities, leaving invisible wounds that can take years to heal.
Events such as these can leave the majority of us feeling helpless. If you aren’t trained to provide medical services, what options are there for helping in a crisis?
Caring for the mental health of those who have been in crisis situations is an overarching need, and one that all of these situations have in common. Here are just a few ways that crisis intervention counselors can help victims of crisis bridge the gap to their new normal.
Helping to meet immediate needs
In times of disaster, crisis intervention counselors can help those in need of assistance by helping them to get what they need. Whether that is a safe place to sleep, food, clothing, or all of the above, meeting physical needs must be done before emotional and psychological needs can be met.
Helping survivors decide what to do next
Crisis survivors may need help to know what to do next. Counselors can help them think through their options – what family members need to be contacted, what options there are for long-term housing, etc. Brains under stress have been proven to not function as well, so the addition of a counselor to help think through options is invaluable.
Providing grief and loss counseling
Many crises like the ones mentioned above mean loss. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one or even the loss of a pet, when combined with the trauma and suddenness of the situation itself the grief can be unbearable. Crisis intervention counselors can help support victims by helping them come to terms with their losses and allowing them to express their grief.
Helping to connect to long-term support systems
Crisis intervention counselors, by definition, are providing support for the short term in a crisis. But what happens when it is time for the counselor to return home, and the victim is still struggling? The counselor should refer the victim to local resources, such as a psychotherapist, who can work with the client long-term to ensure he or she is recovered.
Helping first responders
First responders, the boots on the ground in crisis, have been shown to be at a great risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as suicide. Crisis intervention counselors may find themselves providing counseling to these individuals as they work through the secondary trauma that they are experiencing as well.
Crisis intervention counseling is a rapidly growing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow by 13% in the coming years, must faster than the average growth of occupations.
Disasters are, unfortunately, a part of everyday life. They aren’t going to stop any time soon. But crisis intervention counselors can help make the process a little easier for the victims going through these terrible situations, by helping them meet their physical and mental needs and helping them get on the road to recovery.