Crisis Intervention: Theory and Methodology

By Donna C. Aguilera | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Situational
Crises

There is nothing truly valuable which can be purchased without pains and labor.

—Joseph Addison


Defining Situational Crises

Any situation that occurs in our milieu has an impact on us. It may be something that happens physiologically, psychologically, or sociologically. It may be something that is extremely pleasant or extremely unpleasant, depending on our individual mental attitude and our point of view. We will respond as individuals. What is stressful and traumatic to one person may be something another person has been eagerly anticipating. This is why crisis intervention techniques always ask the individual the vital question, "What does this mean to you; how is it going to affect your life?" It matters not that the therapist working with the client sees the precipitating event as "unimportant" or not, particularly pleasant or particularly stressful. The frame of reference is always from the patient's point of view.

It is vital that the therapist accepts the situation as a problem for the patient. Circumstances that may create only a feeling of mild concern in one individual may create a high level of anxiety, depression, or stress in another. The therapist must recognize the factors influencing a return to a balance of equilibrium or homeostasis. These factors are the perception of the event, available situational supports, and available coping mechanisms.

The perception of the event for each individual is a product of all his past experiences, his present expectations, and his future anticipations. There are two major ways in which the definition of life events can lead to confusion. The first is the distinction between subjective events and objective events.

Subjective events (e.g., sexual difficulty, a major change in the number of arguments with his spouse, and a major change in sleeping habits) are more likely to be manifestations of or responses to underlying pathology. The problem is also not

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