Community service workers (CSWs) are professionals equipped with the training and skills to provide assistance to clients in a variety of situations. CSWs may help people struggling with substance use problems, homelessness, and more, working in a range of environments, from shelters to treatment centers.
One of the services community service workers may provide is crisis intervention. Crisis intervention involves implementing different strategies to help an individual, depending on the situation at hand. To best help those experiencing a crisis, CSWs need to possess an understanding of how to recognize crisis situations, assess them, and ultimately intervene in a way that achieves the best possible outcome for the individual. Read on to discover a few skills that are important to have as a CSW working with an individual in crisis.
Defining the Term “Crisis” for Studens in Community Service Worker Training
Crisis is a term that lacks a concrete definition, mostly because a “crisis” is a term that is specific to an individual and how they perceive something. If an individual is completely overwhelmed by a situation or event and cannot come up with their own solutions or implement their typical coping mechanisms, they may be in a state of crisis.
A crisis state is characterized by emotions such as helplessness or doubt, and is likely to occur when there is a shift in an individual’s environment that causes significant stress. If individuals perceive this change as a crisis, the situation becomes a crisis situation. Individuals in crisis can also be identified by changes in their health and how they function, both emotionally and physically. They may experience exhaustion, mood swings, depression, or changes to activity and their sleeping habits. Professionals with CSW training should be able to recognize an individual in crisis, and gauge the seriousness of the crisis so that they can begin to provide support.
How CSWs Can Help Those in Crisis
After identifying an individual in crisis, CSWs can begin the next steps of handling a crisis: assessment and intervention. CSWs can assess the individual undergoing a crisis through a conversation that allows them to get information and context about the individual’s situation, allowing them to understand the level or instability or hazard involved in their situation, as well as evaluate potential threats to the person’s safety. A CSW can obtain this information by asking questions about the situation and the person’s emotions surrounding it to encourage communication and get a sense of the cognitive state they are in. Their cognitive state refers to their patterns of thinking, and whether they’re capable of making rational decisions. Remember, during this process, a CSW should remain supportive and sensitive, creating a judgement-free zone.
Based on the assessment, those with community service worker training should begin to work more directly with the situation, or intervene. Intervention involves a discussion between the CSW and the individual about possible strategies and resources available to help alleviate the effects of the crisis.
Above all, it’s important for CSWs to remember that they should always be taking the context of their client’s situation—as well as their preferences and concerns—into account so as to come up with a strategy that’s best suited to them. Crisis intervention is a stressful endeavour, but with the right training, community service workers can help individuals facing problems of all kinds and make a difference in their lives.
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