Behavioral Intervention Techniques for a Crisis


Crisis intervention techniques are methods employed by mental health professionals to help deal with trauma, intense stress and change. There is no one crisis intervention technique that helps all. However, there are many types of behavioral techniques that can be used. These techniques generally focus on the interaction of a person’s behavior connected to her well-being and focus on ways of making behavioral changes to resolve a problem or crisis.

Mindfulness and Relaxation

It is common for a person in the midst of a crisis to feel anxious, helpless, stressed and to have difficulty concentrating. He also may experience physiological symptoms, such as problems with eating, sleeping, headaches, muscle tension and raised blood pressure. In this case, relaxation techniques can be helpful. These techniques include deep breathing, as well as mindfulness or meditation exercises. For instance, progressive relaxation is a cognitive-behavioral technique in which a person progressively relaxes certain muscle groups until his entire body is relaxed. This helps to relieve the anxiety and stress related to a crisis and may help to restore focus.

Rational Thought

A person in crisis is likely to feel overwhelmed and have impaired coping skills. She may have difficulty seeing the reality of the situation, particularly if it is feeling out of her control. She may feel helpless or hopeless. Concentrating on rational thought is a behavioral strategy that focuses on the facts of the situations. This technique is based on an inductive method. To use it, a therapist would gently question the client’s assumptions, asking her to look at her thoughts and assumptions and whether or not these are logically connected to the facts of the situations. By seeing the truth of one’s situation clearly, a person in crisis can begin to gain a sense of control.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, is a therapeutic model that was developed for people who are frequently in a state of crisis. DBT is a behavioral therapy based on acceptance and helps the individual to modulate extreme emotions and reduce negative behaviors. The client is taught coping skills via individual therapy but also is given coaching during crises, when a client can access his therapist by phone. Individual therapy in combination with crisis coaching can help the individual learn to regulate painful emotions and tolerate distress. In this way, a client who is prone to frequent crises is able to reduce his number of crises overall and start to self-regulate.

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