The role of collaboration in crisis intervention

Crises—individual, couple, family, and systemic—are complex and multifaceted. They typically affect people across many different areas of life, as the consequences of any given crisis may include physical, medical, emotional, financial, and/or legal aspects. Thus, effective intervention rarely can be carried out by a single human services professional. Instead, human services professionals must initiate collaborative relationships with professionals from any number of fields. Doctors, nurses, police officers, and lawyers are just a few examples of the types of individuals who might collaborate during a crisis intervention. Moreover, a human services professional likely will coordinate care for his or her client with other human services professionals who specialize in particular types of treatment. For example, a human services professional who works at an emergency shelter following a natural disaster may be the first point of contact for a victim who has lost his or her home. After assessing the client, the human services professional might determine that the client would benefit from therapy with a licensed counselor who has experience in working with natural disaster survivors, and thus refer the client to a colleague with this area of expertise. In addition, the human services professional might contact a representative from a state or federal agency to help the client secure long-term shelter. The human services professional, similarly, might consult a social worker to discuss financial assistance options for the client and his or her family or a doctor or nurse if there are any persistent medical problems. Thus, collaborative crisis intervention is a team effort, involving the participation and cooperation of professionals across multiple fields—all with the common goal of helping a client effectively cope with a crisis in his or her life.

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In many cases, the first point of contact for a survivor of a crisis is not a human services professional, but a medical professional or a police officer. A woman who has been sexually assaulted likely will see doctors and nurses before being counseled by a rape crisis worker. A woman who is being abused by her husband may call the police. As a result, it is important for professionals in other fields to have training in treating or interacting with victims of crisis, as well as know to call in counselors, social workers, rape crisis workers, or other human services professionals as needed. In many places, this need is recognized and happens through the formation of specially trained teams of law enforcement officers called Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs). These teams comprise police officers who are adept at handling calls involving mental illness, domestic violence, or other crisis situations. In addition, many hospitals employ Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), also called forensic nurses, who are trained to treat sexual assault victims with sensitivity to the physical, emotional, and legal aspects of the situation. The use of CITs and SANEs does not eliminate the need for additional collaboration later and in fact, is a form of collaboration itself. By working together throughout the training process, law enforcement officers, medical workers, and human services professionals ensure that crisis victims receive collaborative care from the very first point of contact.

To prepare for this Discussion:

 

  • Review Chapter 5 in your course text, Crisis Intervention Strategies, focusing on both the various individuals and agencies involved in case handling at a community mental health clinic, as well as the different public and private organizations involved in the training for and implementation of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs.
  • Review Chapter 17 in your course text, Crisis Intervention Strategies, noting the different organizations and agencies that collaborate during disaster response efforts to assist in crisis intervention.
  • Review the article, “The Emergency Department and Victims of Sexual Violence: An Assessment of Preparedness to Help,” paying particular attention to the various parties who should be involved in the effective treatment of a sexual assault survivor.
  • Review the article, “Replacing the Revolving Door: A Collaborative Approach to Treating Individuals in Crisis,” focusing on how collaboration between public and private agencies can be implemented to assist and benefit individuals experiencing mental health crises.
  • Select an individual, couple, family, or systemic crisis that has affected your community. Reflect on how you would approach intervention for this crisis from a collaborative standpoint. Think about with whom you would need to collaborate, and how and why this collaboration would benefit the client(s).

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 a brief description of an individual, couple, family, or systemic crisis that has affected your community.* Then, explain how you would approach intervention for this crisis from a collaborative standpoint. Explain with whom you would need to collaborate, and how and why this collaboration would benefit the client(s). Be specific and provide examples.

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