ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Does a Crisis Counselor Do?

Updated on February 19, 2015

An introduction to crisis counselors

Crisis counselors are often the first point of contact for helping people to deal with very difficult circumstances. They can assist with the emotional needs that arise from threats of violence, witnessing distressing events, dealing with loss or as the result of a major incident or trauma. In this article we'll explore:

  • The types of situations that crisis counselors deal with
  • How they can help
  • Other areas that they need to be aware of

What situations do crisis counselors assist with?

The types of situations where a crisis counselor can help include:

  • Threats of murder, suicide, violence or other harm
  • Witnessing disturbing events
  • Dealing with personal loss
  • Minimizing the impact of mass trauma

Many crisis counselors will specialize in particular types of situations and will use their interpersonal, professional and other skills to assist in the most beneficial and positive way. They can provide a lifeline of emotional and mental support at the most difficult time of a person's life and help them to deal with profound changes and the impact of an emergency.

We'll explore the most common types of situations where they can help below.

Threats of murder, suicide, violence or other harm

Crisis counselors often have to deal with threats made to individuals or groups of people. This might be harm that a person is threatening to do to themselves, threats from a family member or from another third party.

The priority here is to minimize the threat to individuals and resolve the immediate situation is a safe way. Crisis counselors will often work alongside police and other officials to deal with potentially dangerous individuals.

Examples of situations include:

  • Someone threatening to kill themselves
  • A spouse threatening injury to their partner
  • A person that is mentally or emotionally unbalanced and intends to harm others
  • Other situations that have the potential to become violent or could have bad consequences

Crisis counselors can help to deal with the aftermath of violent or threatening situations
Crisis counselors can help to deal with the aftermath of violent or threatening situations | Source

Witnessing disturbing events

People that have seen disturbing events often need counseling to come to terms with their emotions. A crisis counselor can provide a very useful outlet to allow others to share their grief, distress or anxiety at what they have experienced. Crisis counselors work in this capacity for members of the public and for other professions such as the emergency services or military.

The priority is to look after the emotional and mental health of people impacted by experiencing such events. The military, paramedics, firemen, police, doctors, nurses and other people involved in dealing with emergencies can require counseling to come to terms with their feelings.

Examples might include:

  • People that have witnessed an unexpected death
  • The inability to alter the course of an emergency or stop it from happening
  • Seeing a natural disaster
  • Witnessing loss of life
  • The longer-term impacts of armed conflict

The emotional impact of armed conflict needs to be dealt with
The emotional impact of armed conflict needs to be dealt with | Source
Injury, illness and surgery all need understanding, empathy and support
Injury, illness and surgery all need understanding, empathy and support | Source

Dealing with personal loss

Everyone experiences personal loss and crisis counselors can help others to deal with their loss in a manageable way. Whether it is assisting people that are coping with bereavement, serious injury, emotional distress or other types of loss, crisis counselors can provide support and care at critical times.

The priority here is to support individuals, both with the immediate impact and aftermath of suffering a personal loss and also over the medium to long-term as they adjust and come to terms with things. It often requires extended support as the impact of the loss can last for many years.

Examples might include:

  • The death of a loved one
  • Dealing with a serious, acute or chronic illness
  • The impact of disability or injury
  • Painful relationship breakdowns, divorce and separation
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed and not able to cope

Minimizing the impact of mass trauma

Some crisis counselors specialize in dealing with mass trauma. Whilst the emergency services will often deal with the physical safety, security and recovery of people, crisis counselors can help to protect people emotionally and mentally.

The priority here is to help people to manage the mental and emotional shock, helplessness and feelings of guilt and loss that often occur in these types of situations.

Examples might include:

  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and the like
  • Accidents that result in injury or loss of life such as major vehicle collisions or industrial accidents
  • Emergencies such as fires, flooding and serious weather events
  • Major crimes and terrorist activities
  • Acts of war and military conflict

Mass emergencies have an impact far beyond the physical
Mass emergencies have an impact far beyond the physical | Source

How crisis counselors can help

The care, support, advice and resources that a crisis counselor provides are often dictated by the crisis that they are dealing with. If they are helping someone that has been the victim of a violent threat, their priorities will be to ensure that the person feels safe and to help them rebuild their self-confidence. If they are dealing with a disaster, their responsibilities might include letting people know where and how they can get medical treatment, shelter, water or food.

Because of what they do, crisis counselors often work very closely with the emergency services, medical professionals, social workers and other professions that provide care, expertise and support.

They learn to quickly appraise a situation and understand how people typically react to a crisis (for example: confusion, fear, panic, freezing, anxiety or anger). In these cases, their priority is to provide care and support to make people safe as soon as possible.

Crisis counselors are most often involved at or soon after the initial point of crisis, although in some cases they may continue to provide ongoing support and care. In other cases, they may refer ongoing help to other specialist counselors or professionals.

An example of crisis counselors and preventing teen suicide

Other areas that crisis counselors need to be aware of

In addition to all of the points above, crisis counselors often have to bear the following in mind:

  • They need to minimize any imminent physical danger to themselves or others.
  • They should not put themselves at undue risk or in harm's way to help others.
  • They may need to work in a team with other counselors and professionals to provide support.
  • They sometimes need to take a step back and let other professionals do their jobs.
  • Dealing with crises means that sometimes they will need counseling themselves.
  • Not everyone can be helped

Crisis counselors are an essential part of a support network for victims
Crisis counselors are an essential part of a support network for victims | Source

A short quiz on crisis counselors and what they do

view quiz statistics
We all need a helping hand
We all need a helping hand | Source

In closing

Ultimately, crisis counsellors can be a very powerful force for good in otherwise extremely difficult circumstances. They can provide the pastoral care and practical support to help people deal with often overwhelming emotions and circumstances in a safe way.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Paul Maplesden profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Maplesden 

      3 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I agree - It's a tricky and difficult career - Thanks for the comment!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 

      3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Tough job indeed and respect they all deserve.

      Good, informative hub!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)