Crisis counseling is a short-term strategy used to resolve recurrent problems that normally become traumatic. It usually lasts for no more than 1 to 3 months. If a crisis does not get resolved in a healthy manner, the experience may lead to lasting medical, psychological or social problems. It is not an alternative for individuals who require long-term intensive psychiatric care. It simply provides support, education and guidance (James, 2008). The key goal of crisis counseling is to increase stabilization. It, therefore, deals with temporary issues that do not last long. Crisis counseling happens normally during a period of stress in one’s life.
Actions the counselor could have done differently
The counselor should not offer the client explanations for their feelings and behavior. This is so as to give the client a chance to do it themselves. When it is possible for the client to explain their own behavior, they are able to resolve the crisis (Caviola and Colford, 2010). This is because it encourages perceptual change where one is able to make accurate interpretations of their situation.
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Do not ask the client why they are in crisis or ask any leading questions. Instead, let the client tell you what happened to them in their own way. The counselor can use reflection as an alternative. This is where the counselor repeats the client’s words or paraphrases them in order to encourage them to elaborate. This reflection must not turn to a question as this is leading the client. If reflection gets used appropriately, it can be used to help the client tell his story accurately.
The counselor should not compare the clients experience to their own. Do not change the counseling session to giving advice. When counseling, it is highly necessary to employ counseling techniques. These include; self-disclosure, use of contracts, rehearsal and homework assignments (Roberts, 2005). This is always more successful in resolving the crisis than giving advice without proper explanation and understanding of the problem. When this gets done properly by the counselor and the client, then it means the crisis will become resolved without a relapse.
Conclusions drawn from the interactive segment
Counselors cannot always expect to succeed with every client. Counselors must be honest with themselves and with their client and accept that they cannot work successfully with every client. We must, therefore, avoid putting excessive pressure on the clients when much has not been achieved after a planned period of time.
At the beginning of every crisis intervention, there are normally a lot of signs of distress from the client’s side. This gets accompanied by disorganized behavior and skills. The counselor should therefore, work to achieve the state where the client calms down themselves as they work with alternative resources (Robert, 2005). This must be done until the client calms down and regains full control of his or her actions. Every step of the crisis intervention process is towards restoration of the client to independent functioning.
During crisis counseling, there must be an education that helps the client develop an understanding of irrational beliefs and understand his problems. We must also help the client become aware of the impact their behavior has on themselves and others around them.
Strengths of crisis counselors
A crisis counselor should be warm and genuine. With respect to the counseling relationship, the counselor should be approachable and willing to be open with the client. This makes the client comfortable and they open up easier (Caviola and Colford, 2010). They should also be genuine which will include; the counselor’s consistency, spontaneity and authenticity. This means that every response that the counselor gives to the client should be frank, true and consistent every time it gets given. This also helps the counselor separate the personal and professional feelings because they become obligated to tell the clients the truth always. For example, if the client keeps changing his story about an incidence, the counselor must point out this to him and help him get his story straight.
Listening skills are also extremely beneficial for a crisis counselor. This is one of the most important counseling techniques (Caviola and Colford, 2010). It calls for sustained attention by the counselor. The skilled counselor listens to both verbal and non-verbal speech and should avoid interpreting what they hear. They listen attentively and clarify everything they hear before they move to the next stage. For crisis counseling to effectively take place, the counselor must possess listening skills.
Skills and characteristics that should be improved
Certain skills and characteristics must be acquired or improved by the counselor so as to make crisis counseling more effective. Such skills include questioning skills, empathetic understanding, humor, honesty and patience.
Questioning skills are particularly valuable to encourage conversation, for clarification and to elicit further information that needs to be explored. We must also learn the right questioning techniques does not necessarily lead the client. These skills can be developed through practice as we interact with clients. We can also test the effectiveness of our questions by analyzing the answers.
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Empathetic understanding can be developed when the counselor is willing to pay attention to the client and find out what he or she implies. A counselor must be able to precisely establish the clients feelings and communicate this understanding to them (Caviola and Colford, 2010).
Humor is also a skill that we require as crisis counselors. Humor is necessary so as to help the client feel more comfortable and relaxed during the counseling session. It is also an effective tool for relieving tension and circumventing resistance. Humor gets acquired by the counselor when he or she learns to be as natural as possible during the counseling sessions.
Honesty and patience are vital skills needed by the crisis counsellors must have. This helps the communication process, and it also helps the client develop more confidence in the counsellor. Honesty and patience are virtues that become developed during our day to day life as we meet different situations. Counsellors must work hard so as to develop these skills to be able to manoeuvre crisis positively.