Crisis Intervention & Management Module

Module Sections:

Crisis Management

Identifying Perceptions

  • Members maintain varying views of danger and security
  • Understanding members’ perceptions indicate how the family as a whole makes sense of the situation including the stressor event, pile-up, and resources available for meeting increased demands
  • Comparing member perceptions enables the therapist to assess the degree of congruity among members and highlighting areas of overlap
  • Perceptions will provide the therapist with a sense of the family’s reliance on maintaining crises and their readiness for change

Source of Vulnerability and Resilience

Families cope with stress in a variety of ways. When stress rises to the level of a crisis for a family, therapists examine the family interactional patterns to determine the evidences of family and family member vulnerability and resilience:

  • Nature vs. nurture interact and contribute factors to people’s experiences of stressful events and circumstances.
    • Genetic factors include each family member’s…
      • Temperament - ways of processing experiences and defining self in the world
      • Personality – tendencies toward depression, impulsivity, aggressiveness, passivity, etc.
      • Intelligence – ability to understand experiences and feelings
  • Environmental factors represent each family member’s engagement with varying contexts using…
    • Social skills – interacting with others and relationships
    • Self-esteem – feelings about oneself, own identity
    • Attachments – early experiences of bonding with caregivers
    • Family system dynamics – attach/distance, straying/connecting, rigidity/flexibility

Assessing the “Family’s Pattern” Crisis-Proneness

Various researchers have offered descriptions of the families who appear to experience repeated or constant crises. Each suggests examining the pattern of crisis as the focus of assessment and subsequent intervention.

  • Hill (1958) described families who displayed a crisis-proneness. He noted that events are experienced with greater frequency and severity. The family members more frequently define events as crises, appear to lack the “crisis-meeting resources,” and fail to learn from past crises.
  • Bell (1963) described families in perpetual crises as crisis-oriented families who feel“ trapped between the need for change and the need to protect current patterns, roles, and organization… They experience the stability of chaos or patterned crises.” (p. 38)
  • The following cycles contribute to current family patterns:
    • Transgenerational cycles involving the ways loss, abandonment, trauma, family emotional process are managed and have been passed down through the generations
    • Personal cycles involving conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety
    • Interactional cycles involving family conflict/violence, cohesion/adaptability, and family emotional process
  • The meaning of time varies for different families suggesting recommendations for responsive therapeutic approaches
    • Chaotic families most often view time as eventful. Therapy must attempt to slow down events, involve clear contracts, and specify time limits.
    • Rigid families most often view time as arrested. Therapy must mobilize time and events by stimulating a crisis or no change.
  • A real crisis puts family members into acute grief, whereas for families in perpetual crisis, grief is blocked to protect self from facing difficult issues.