When a crisis occurs, the effects can be devastating and long-lasting. Crisis counseling is designed to help reduce the negative effects of a crisis, improve coping skills, and help individuals regain stability, calm, trust and confidence. Counselors and other mental health professionals are trained to work with traumatic events of many different types.

Crisis Counseling for Trauma

What is a Crisis?

There are many different types of crises. Some are recognized mostly universally, such as a traumatic weather event, violent attack, or war. An individual may be directly involved in the event, or an observer. However, a crisis can also be personal. This might include a death, abuse, divorce, loss of a job, relocation or something else.

It’s important to recognize that a crisis is not defined by how others view an event, but by how an individual in crisis views an event. A personal event might not impact one person, but might impact another greatly. This can depend on the individual’s outlook, values, other life events, situation and other aspects. What an individual finds traumatic or not is not indicative of mental toughness.

Though each person is different, crises generally share three characteristics:

  • The event is negative
  • The event is unexpected
  • The individual feels hopeless or helpless as a result

What is Crisis Counseling?

Crisis counseling is designed to give the individual stability, safety and security in the aftermath of a crisis. While other types of therapy generally last longer, crisis counseling is generally focused on immediate support and intervention. After this initial stage, usually two to six weeks, individuals may then switch to a longer therapy plan or strategies, such as CBT or psychodynamic therapy.

Crisis counseling does not necessarily involve talking about the traumatic event. For some, this can cause them to relive the event before they are prepared. Instead, crisis counseling focuses on how the individual feels, their behaviors, routines, struggles, and developing healthy coping mechanisms.

Crisis counseling generally consists of one-on-one sessions with a counselor or therapist. This may be in-person in a clinic or hospital, or online.

What to Expect from Crisis Counseling

During crisis counseling, you’ll work one-on-one with a counselor or therapist. The professional will first assess your situation, and ask you questions about your lifestyle, such as your sleeping or eating habits, work and home life, relationships, and overall feelings day-to-day. You will probably take a mental health assessment and answer a questionnaire. Your therapist may also ask you about dangers to yourself or others, such as suicidal or homicidal thoughts, substance misuse, angry outbursts, or uncertainty about reality.

With your situation assessed, your therapist will work with you to establish emotional stability and safety. This will involve discussing your feelings about the current situation and the future, to the degree which you’re comfortable. You may learn coping strategies to reduce the effects of flashbacks, outbursts, dissociative states, depression, anxiety and other severe symptoms. Your therapist will help you to re-establish control and confidence in your surroundings, healthy habits, and a safety plan.

Do I Need Crisis Counseling?

Since a crisis can mean different things for different people, it can be difficult to determine whether you need crisis counseling or not. However, it is better to take part in crisis counseling, even if you aren’t sure if you need it. Crisis counseling can help you reduce potentially harmful, long-term effects. There are no negative side-effects to crisis counseling, so there is no reason not to seek help.

If you are still unsure, consider the following. If these symptoms or situations sound familiar to you, consider getting crisis counseling

  • A recent, unexpected event has upset your life
  • You frequently find yourself dwelling or ruminating on the event
  • Friends or family members have expressed concern
  • You find it difficult to concentrate, work or study
  • You can’t get to sleep, or sleep for long periods
  • You use alcohol or drugs to avoid feelings or thoughts
  • It’s difficult to eat, or difficult to stop eating
  • Troubling events or images keep coming back to you
  • You lose time or feel as though you’re watching yourself
  • You’ve seen or heard things that others don’t
  • You’re preoccupied with extreme thoughts or fears

If you’re in the middle of a crisis, either from current events or personal events in your life, seek crisis counseling. Michigan Counseling Centers provides in-person and teletherapy crisis counseling services from offices in Greater Detroit.  Request a consultation with Michigan Counseling Centers to learn more about crisis counseling.