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2007.07.15 13:48

Crisis in Counselling

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I. Crisis Counselling

In most communities, the pastor is a key figure - often the first recourse - for
people in crisis. People in crisis rely on there pastor to know what to do, to steer
them through emergency, tragedy, disaster, loss, Often they are paralyzed.
Crime has increased. People are living on the edge. No one is safe. Modern
existence seems to be a crisis waiting to happen. The crisis is not presented fulley
for the pastor to handle.

The Minister as Crisis Counselor

The successful resolution of this crisis may have helped them deal with future
crisis. We are constrained and naked before others, God, and even ourselves. In
one way or another, where ministers like it or not, they are faced with crisis in
people's lives. Crisis ministry has been part of pastoral care throughout many
centuries; indeed, Christian have learned to expect their pastors to be with at them
at such times.

A crisis can be understood as a crucial time and a turning point. In the present
context it is the term for an individual's internal reaction to an external of action.
Persons in crisis are not necessarily mentally ill, they are not simply responding to
a hazardous circumstance. If they effectively cope with the threat, a return to
former levels of functioning will result.

The two basic types of crisis are developmental and situational. Normal
developmental crisis are the predictable, through critical. experiences everyone
goes through in the maturation process. Situational crisis are exceptional and
unpredictable; they are the upheavals resulting from unusual circumstances such as
divorce or a disabling accident.

The aim of pastoral crisis intervention is to help individuals and families deal with
latter. Clergy fine themselves in a unique position for crisis intervention. Pastors
are often among the first to be sought out when crises arises, and are natural
crisis interventions for a number of reasons. Clergy have a core of previously
established relationships with people in the congregation. The person in crisis is
one who has begun to lose perspective, feel anxious and helpless, often depressed
and worthless, frequently without hope, whose future seems to be blocked out, who
even has lost sight of some of his or her own past. faith is a direct counterforce
to the dynamics of crisis.

Ⅱ. The Dynamics of Crisis

Extreme circumstances, it illustrates how such an extraordinary experience can
bring about a crisis in an individual's life. The conversion affected him emotionally
so much so that he abstained from food and drink for several days.

How a Crisis develops

A crisis occurs as an internal response to an external hazardous event It is
important not to confuse the crisis with the precipitating event. To this end it may
be helpful to think of the development of a crisis in terms of for major elements.
The first is the stimulus or precipitating event.

Precipitating event ~ Appraisal ~ Resourses and coping methods ~ Crisis
The second element of crisis development is the appraisal of the situation. they see
it as a very dangerous situation, one that most likely will adversely affect their

Crisis as normative

Crisis are not a sign of mental illness but a normal human reaction to an
emotionally hazardous situation. Some crisis precipitators such as the death of a
spouse generally stimulate a greater degree of distress than others. Individuals may
weather a series of storms un~il one final event sends them crashing into the rocks.
Most individuals in crisis perceive a lossa or are threatened with the loss of
something important to them - some source of physical, interpersonal, economical,
or emotional well-being.

Crisis resolution can be for better or for worse. Even though people may go
through considerable emotional pain during a crisis. it can become a positive
experience - a chance for growth.

Crises of Religious Values

Paul Tillich defined pastoral care as a "helping encounter in the dimension of
ultimate concern". A crisis also can upset a person's values and sense of meaning.
every crisis raises at its core issues of faith, and asks questions such as: What is
the meaning of life? Is it worth the pain to continue living? Did I do the rihgt
thing? Why did this happen to me? Why does the God allow me to suffer? Can I
ever trust anyone again? Asking these questions requires an openness to the
vulnerability of an unknowable future; they require the making of faith choices.
"Hope that is seen is not hope, For who hopes for what is seen? but if we hope
for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience"(Rom8:24-25).

The minister's task is to assist them in discerning exactly what they expect to
achieve the goal and then to help them reach it.

Ⅲ. A design for intervention

To prepare for pastoral crisis intervention by conditioning and improving ability to cope with negative feelings - anger, sarcasm, and belittlement - directed toward us.

The A-B-C method of crisis intervention

The goal of crisis counseling is to help persons in crisis regain at least their
precrisis level of functioning, and one hope to grow to even higher levels.
The model of crisis intervention offered here is the ABC method first formulated by
psychiatrist Warren L. Jones, as a technique of helping people in crisis.

The A-B-C method of pastor crisis intervention has three elements: (a) Achieve
contact with the person; (B) Boil down the problem to its essentials; and (C)
Cope actively with the problem. This method does not require a progression from
A to B to C. Two or three steps can and frequently do occur at the same time.
Achieving Contact with the Person in Crisis.

The initial step for helping individuals in crisis to achieve contact to establish an
empathetic relationship. If a relationship already exists, it can speed the initial
phase of crisis intervention. The relationship is not the goal of crisis intervention
but the basis upon which the care process grows toward crisis resolution.

A relationship of trust and empathy is no less important in crisis intervention than
in any other form of counseling or pastor care, but because persons in crisis are
usually less defensive, less time and effort is usually required to establish it.

Attending Behaviors. Attending behaviors are the minister's physical, nonverbal acts
that communicate interest and concern and help produce a relaxed and comfortable.
Physical posture, sometimes referred to as "body language." also can communicate
interest and readiness to respond. The most helpful posture is to face people and
lean forward slightly.

Another way we experience care and concern from eariest infancy is by being held
and cuddled by our parents. The need for touch continues into adulthood. Holding
the hand of a person in grief, putting an arm around the shoulder of one who is
upset. even a handshake, are ways of gently communicating concern through
touch. The great benefit of touch is that it can transmit feelings of concern when
words are impossible. In addition, in crisis intervention, a person of the opposite
gender may interpret touching as a sexual gesture.

Looking into the eyes of a troubled person is one of the most powerful attending
behaviors for communicating concern.

Boiling Down the Problem to its Essentials

The second step of the A-B-C method of crisis intervention involves reducing the
problem to its essential elements. This step requires responding to people in crisis
in such a way that they can define in their own minds what has happened, what
they are feeling, and why. The boiling down phase calls upon the helper's skill of
responding and focusing.

Responding is one of the basic dimensions of all human interchange; communication,
verbal or nonverbal, is not complete until there is response. The number of questions posed to people in crisis should be kept to a minimum because questions tend to put people on the sopt and narrow their range of expression.

Debating or arguing with a person who is experiencing a crisis usually creates
distance rather than closeness. The caregiver needs to respect the right of persons
to maintain their own, different views by neither criticizing nor belittling those
persons or their views.

Focusing. Individuals are frequently not fully aware of the precipitating stress and
its consequences. The focusing process aims at prompt identification of the nature
of the threat. and clarification of the relevant circumstances and conflicts. When the
crisis can be defined clearly and the nature of the threat to the person clarified, a
plan for its resolution becomes possible; indeed, ideally it would emerge out of the
individual's own thinking.

Coping Activity with the Problem

Knowing what the problem is but being unable to fine a solution is a common
difficulty for those in crisis, yet it is useless to boil down the problem if the
person does not take action.

Establishing Goals. Ideally, at this point in the A-B-C method, the minister has
established a relationship, allowed the expression of feelings, and helped the person boil down and define the problem. the next task is to establish goals. Crisis counseling aims only at the removal of symptoms and the achievement of a level of functioning as high as or higher than before. Changing the focus of helping from negative to positive(goal) is the first step.

Taking Inventory of Resources. After the goal has been delineated, ministers will
need to help individuals take inventory of their internal and external resources.
Internal resources are those methods of coping which each person has developed
and upon which he ot she can draw in the face of daily problems. Sometimes
people are not aware of their internal resources.

External resources include friends, family, church, community groups, and finances.
People who are in crisis often pull away from meaningful interpersonal involvement and feel lonely.

Those who are emotionally close to a person in crisis frequently need pastoral care as well. They are under greater - than- normal pressures during the crisis and
may themselves require special guidance and support.

Formulating Alternatives. After developing goals and reviewing resources, the
minister and the persons in crisis brainstorm alternative courses of action that
might facilitate these goals. The minister encourages individuals to develop their
own alternatives, and both good and bad ideas are included on the list of ideas.
From the list of alternatives the minister and the person in crisis weed out all
irrelevant and unworkable courses of action.

After weighing courses of action in terms of values, the minister and the counselee
consider each course's potential effectiveness. After reviewing the various courses of action, individuals in crisis need to choose one or two upon which to embark.

Committing to Acting. After the commitment, action must be immediate. This step is
vital because it helps reverse any tendency of ongoing dependence of the
counselee people on the helper.

Evaluating. In many ways, review and refinement are not a separate part of all
helping, but an ongoing function. Ministers and those they help continually need to
evaluate whether the chosen goals and new behaviors are effective toward
resolution of the crisis.


Follow-up with the person or family in crisis is essential. It deepens the
relationship and reaffirms the minister's concern. It determines whether or not they
are continuing to do what is needed to resolve their crisis.

Ⅳ. Portraits in Crisis

Crisis are not all alike. Caplan, Mason, and Kaplan(1965), researchers in the field of
crisis theology, believe that crisis differ in two ways: according to whether they
are development or situational; and according to the type of challenge or hazard
involved, such as death of a loved one or a significant personal injury.

How to counsel the person in each case - there is no one best way- but also try
to define the precipitator of the crisis, the individual's perception of it, and , with
the details presented, a consensual formulation for the person.

V. The Church as Caring Community
"Let us thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Merciful Father,
the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are
able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we
ourselves have receives from God"(2Cor. 1:3-4). God's love for us is a prior
condition for our loving others. As a caring community, the church is singularly
well suited for responding to people in crisis.

Thomas F. McGee(1964) describes four conditions essential for effective crisis
intervention. The first is location. For crisis intervention to be effective, persons
doing it must be involved with and located in a specific community; people in crisis
rely upon helpers. Second is availability. Individuals in crisis must be able quickly
to achieve contact with those who can help. A third condition is mobility Those
who help in crisis must be able to go to the scene of a crisis, roll up their sleeves,
and do what is needed. Fourth; flexibility of procedure is needed. Crisis
intervention requires a variety of means and method.

Crisis intervention, whether undertaken by members of the congregation or the
clergy, or both, is a core task of ministry aimed at encountering and caring for the
many people in each community who experience crisis. It is an important way in
which Christian can express the love of God to persons at their times of greatest


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