Conceptualizations and General
Principles of Crisis Counseling,
Intervention, and Prevention
University of California, Davis
Perhaps the feature of a crisis that is most dramatic to witness is the effect on individuals. Children in crisis suddenly function with greatly diminished capacity in meeting everyday demands. Students whom others have seen only behaving competently and efficiently suddenly become disorganized, depressed, hyperactive, confused, or hysterical (Pynoos, 1994). Customary problem-solving activities and resources seem to evaporate. Individuals who are in what Caplan (1964) termed a state of psychological disequilib rium often behave irrationally and withdrawn from normal contacts. They cannot be helped using usual counseling or teaching techniques. Nevertheless, children in crisis are usually also in school. School psychologists and other guidance personnel must be able to support teachers, parents, and the children themselves during periods of crisis for children. In addition, school personnel must be forward thinking and anticipate that crises will occur in children's lives. They must be prepared to act and find ways to help children master the challenges of crises when they occur.
The earliest work on crisis intervention is usually attributed to Lindemann (1944) and his studies of the aftermath of the Coconut Grove nightclub fire. This disaster, which occurred in Boston in the late 1930s, took a large toll of