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Application of Crisis Theory Intervention
In order to understand crisis theory, where it originated and how it applies and relates to victim advocacy we must first define crisis. Crisis is defined as “a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life” or “a condition of instability or danger, as in a social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change” (Dictionary.com, 2018) Crisis can affect a single individual who experiences a circumstance they feel is intolerable or outside their ability to cope or it can also affect a group of individuals in a more systematic manner in a mass traumatic event. Crisis can occur at any time and to anyone, it has no limitations and no one is unsusceptible. In this paper, I will discuss Applied and Expanded Crisis Theory, explain the roots of these theories and how they can be applied as a victim advocate to doing crisis intervention. Lastly, using Applied Crisis Theory I will identify and give examples of a developmental, situational and existential crisis that I have personally experienced in my own life.
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Crisis theory was developed in the early 1940’s by a German psychiatrist, Dr. Erich Lindermann, he researched and authored the first literature available for bereavement and crisis intervention (MacDonald, 2016). One of his colleagues, a man by the name of Gerald Caplan continued to research and to build the development of crisis theory and its practice (MacDonald, 2016). Over the last 40 years the field of crisis theory has developed and changed through the contributions of various theorists, crisis organizations and grassroots movements.
Lindermann and Caplan’s works on crisis theory were essential in providing a foundation for crisis theory and were developed at a time in our nation’s history where an immediate response to a large scale traumatic events such as World War II and other tragedies were necessary. During the 1970’s to the 1990’s, crisis intervention adapted and was shaped with the creations of specialized victim services organizations and grassroots movements that’s sole purposes were to support victims of rape, domestic violence, impaired-driving homicides and parents of murdered children (Davis, Lurigio, & Herman, 2013, p. 325)
Authors Richard K. James and Burl E. Gilliland, in their book, Crisis Intervention Strategies, explained that Lindemann’s basic crisis theory does not adequately “address the social, environmental, and situtional factors that make an event a crisis” (Gilliland, B. & James, R., 2017, pp. 15-18). Expanded crisis theory further explores these dynamic crisis factors and is comprised of several components which include psychoanalytic, systems, adaptational, interpersonal, chaos and developmental theories (Gilliland, B. & James, R., 2017, pp. 15-18).
Taking these theories into account victim advocates are able to understand that no matter who a victim is, anyone is susceptible to these factors and create strategies/approaches to make sense of these factors that make up the experience, behaviors and stages of these components regarding crisis intervention.
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University of Washington, Seattle professor, Lawrence Brammer, in his 1985 book, “The Helping Relationship: Process and Skills,” both identifies and discusses areas of crisis which fall under his theory of applied crisis. His theory supports three areas of crisis theory which include developmental crisis, situational crisis and lastly existential crisis. These crisis theories offer an opportunity to apply crisis intervention. A developmental crises is “the result of a normal life event that causes stress and strain on an individual” (MacDonald, 2016). When faced with this crisis as a victim advocate you will need to pay close attention to the client to ensure that they are able to return to normal behaviors and activities. As for a situational crisis, it is the result of a “uncommon or extraordinary events that an individual has no way of forecasting or controlling” (Gilliland, B. & James, R., 2017, p.18). Victims that are in this type of situation may have experienced anything from a sexual assault, a vehicle accident, a sudden loss or grief and or terrorism. Since this type of crisis is often sudden and shocking to a victim as an advocate you want to take special care with your clients and be prepared for them to exhibit symptoms of shock, high emotion’s and even extreme stress. The third and final crisis we will discuss is existential crisis which involves “inner conflicts and anxieties that accompany important human issues of purpose, responsibility, independence, freedom, and commitment” (Gilliland, B. & James, R., 2017, p.18). In this type of crisis as a victim advocate you need to be aware of your client’s mental health and work with them to restore their emotional equilibrium and assist them in coping with the transition. You want to work to avoid deterioration in the mental health that could lead to extreme measures such as suicide. As a victim advocate it is your job to help better equip your clients with the coping skills they need to grow from a crisis they have experienced and become better equipped to deal with past and future issues they may have.
When looking at my own life and applying the Applied Crisis Theory and the three crisis domains, a developmental crisis I have experienced would be when, at just under 5 years in the military, I had to make the decision to change career fields. I joined the Air Force in 2005 as a Security Forces member and continued this career until I became a single parent in 2008 and realized that this job was not conducive to raising a child so I chose to cross train into Combat Arms. This new career would be a somewhat stressful transition because it requires marksmanship accuracy which I had never quite mastered during my career and also requires you to be able to teach others these skills. Starting over knowledge wise was extremely difficult and being required to teach classes was another challenge I struggled with. I experienced extreme anxiety and panic when I had to instruct classes and it almost cost me my career. Luckily I had colleagues that were willing to lend me there ear and guide me and I also began regular counseling to help deal with my anxiety. As for a situational crisis I have experienced on December 25th of 2001 my mother ended her life by suicide. Though she had suffered throughout my life with mental illness and had threatened to end her life in the past I never could have imagined being a 16 year old kid without their mom. On the same day my father’s house was burglarized and arsoned so throughout the next few years things did not return to normalcy and still to this day I am not a fan of Christmas. Last, an existential crisis in my life has been leaving the military after 13 years of service. I have spent most of my life serving in the military and choosing to leave has been both terrifying and exciting at the same time. Things were emotionally and financially challenging at first but as time has passed I know I made the best decision for my family.
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