- Introduction: Crisis Theory and Intervention
Society is not a place without problems. In fact, it is a place with a lot of it. There are a lot of categories of problems that exist and perhaps the most common forms of problem are economic, political, health-related, and social in nature. The objective of this paper is to discuss a case of Crisis Theory and Intervention, particularly the case of Ken, a 20 year old college student studying at the University of Southern California, who is showing continuously increasing signs of anxiety and depression after being exposed to a traumatic criminal activity, that is the murder of his friend and roommate in the school dormitory.
In books about social crisis theories and interventions, a crisis, or its occurrence is often described as one of the major turning points in an individual’s life. It is often a problematic point wherein the usual modes and or methods of solving a particular problem do not seem to be enough to handle and ultimately solve the problem or any noxious stimuli anymore; a point wherein the person’s psychological defense mechanisms prove to be ineffective in ensuring that the person successfully adapts to the situation and do whatever adjustments it calls for; and often a point wherein only professional or outside help can lead to the resolution of the issues and problems.
According to Poal (1990), the origins of crisis theory can be traced back to the way how Lindemann, a classical psychologist, in 1944, performed studies about grief reactions, in the process creating a framework for defining the symptomatology and other mechanisms and expected outcomes in an event of a crisis. Persons who are currently experiencing a crisis or in an acute grief situation often display one or more, and in worst cases, all of these symptoms: 1. Somatic distress; 2. Guilt; 3. Preoccupation with the image of the person or entity causing the stimuli (can be a person, a thing, or a memory of an event); 4. Hostile and abusive reactions; 5. And Loss of patterns of conduct. The discovery and the modern popularity of crisis theory and intervention may also be attributed to the works of professor Gerald Caplan and his colleagues at Harvard University. Caplan and his co-researchers basically consider that “a crisis is provoked when a person faces a problem for which he appears not to have an immediate solution and that is for a time insurmountable through the utilization of usual methods of problem solving; a period of upset and tension follows during which the person makes many attempts at the solution of the problem; eventually, some kind of adaptation and equilibrium is achieved which may leave the person in a better or worse condition than prior to the crisis” . In a nutshell, a crisis can be anything that may disrupt a person’s emotional homeostasis or equilibrium .
- Brief Agency Description and the Role of the Social Worker within the Agency
The name of the social agency providing the social care services in this case is Golden Care Services. This social agency has a long track record in the industry. It has been in the industry for 30 straight years with over 18,000 resolved cases of emotional instability and basically any case related to social work. Social workers are the functional units of the company and the company. Not more than a week ago, Ken has been visited by a group of agents from Golden Care Services after his parents consulted the firm’s professional advice on the matter.
Social work agencies, and on a smaller scale, social workers, can be considered as society’s first line of defense against the harmful effects of a crisis on a crisis on the person experiencing the crisis, and his family. In cases of child abuse, terminally ill and bereaved persons, mentally ill, bettered women, and young adolescents having frequent conflicts with their parents—some of the most common social problems in society, social workers play an important role in the rehabilitation of the affected individuals and in the process of bringing them back to their pre-crisis state. It is included in the list of responsibilities of social workers and social agencies to have the knowledge and experience in dealing with any form of social issue they may face in the field. Fortunately, there are tools and principles that they can use as weapons. Naturally, social workers have to know what they are doing. Knowing what to do is one thing but knowing how to successfully apply such things in any given situation is another. Every person is often paired with a unique set of personalities, challenges, factors, and circumstances. Therefore, a social worker who knows how to apply his knowledge and experience as a social worker in almost any situation, especially the hardest and most complicated ones, can be considered as a gem in the industry. There are two things that can happen in a crisis intervention: the social agency and the social workers will have solved the crisis, successfully bringing back the victim to his pre-crisis condition, or the social agency and the social workers will have solved the crisis, but they were able to make the social and emotional condition of the victim worse. Naturally, the former scenario is the preferred one among the two. However, despite the presence of the so-called gems in the industry, there really is not a one hundred percent chance or guarantee that every crisis situation will be resolved positively. There will always be an ideally small portion of the total population experiencing crisis that will not be able to go back to their pre-crisis condition.
- Description of the presenting problems, bio-psychosocial data and its relation to the person’s current crisis state
The main problem in the case is the fact that Ken has been showing continuously increasing signs of fear, anxiety, and depression. Some of the major indicators that can serve as evidences to this notion are the following: 1. Reports from Ken’s parents that suggest that Ken is afraid to go and stay out of the house since the occurrence of the traumatic incident 2. Reports from Ken’s professors that he continues to miss classes, which is highly unusual because Ken has been consistently on the list of top students since his primary school years 3. Reports from Ken’s parents that Ken spends considerably less time bonding and socializing with his friends and family compared to the amount of time he used to spend before the traumatic incident.
A person’s ability to cope with a crisis depends on several factors; some of the major ones include his previous problem-solving experience, his experiencing in coping with problems, the way how he views problems in life, the amount of help and support available, and the presence of anything that may hinder him from receiving help and support . Upon asking the subject’s parents, it has been ascertained that Ken is a fairly strong person with a positive outlook on life. He views the idea of having problems, no matter how big or complex they are, as a constant part of life. At some point, he even views problems as challenges which he has to overcome in order to proceed with his life. He also does not get easily affected or frustrated with small problems. Ken is an outgoing person. He has a lot of friends and he spends a significant portion of his free time attending parties, reunions, and casual trips to malls. He is also close to his family—his father, mother, and his two brothers and sisters.
- Background to the Problem
This is a case of Ken, not his real name, a 20 year old student currently studying at the University of Southern California. Approximately three months ago, Ken’s roommate, whose identity will not be revealed for purposes of confidentiality, was brutally murdered. After the investigation and the release of police reports, it has been ascertained that Ken’s roommate was a drug dealer and that the reason why he got brutally killed was his failure to pay the more senior members of the drug cartel drug dealing-related debts. Ken’s roommate was killed in front of Ken. He was able to witness how his roommate got stabbed numerous times and how his life eventually faded out. Ken was being restrained by several other guys during the time of the incident and the suspects also threatened to kill him and his family should he make any move that will lead to their arrests. The justice authorities have already ruled out the possibility of Ken being involved in his roommate’s drug-related activities. All four suspects in the crime have already been captured and are currently imprisoned in one of the U.S. correctional facilities. Three months after the incident, Ken’s family and friends have noticed obvious signs of depression, anxiety, and fear. Ken has been reportedly afraid to spend time outside the house; unable to sleep at night. His professors have also reported that Ken has been absent for quite a number of times in some of his classes already, which according to Ken’s parents, are highly unusual because their son has consistently been in the top list of students since his primary school years. Additionally, Ken does not participate in the school and in his friends’ social activities anymore, which is another unusual thing that, according to his parents, only started after the murder of his roommate which he witnessed.
- Description and Conceptualization of the Presenting Problem Using the Crisis Theory
There are four phases of a crisis. Phase I is when the person starts to show signs of anxiety as a form of response to a traumatic event. In a crisis, the person’s coping and defense mechanisms often prove to be insufficient in resolving the crisis, hence its presence. Phase II is where the signs of anxiety continues to increase, often coupled with other signs of emotional instability such as depression. Under Phase III, the subject continues to increase the frequency and number of signs of emotional instability. It is also under this phase where he already starts to ask friends and family members for help . The fourth and last phase, Phase IV, is also known as the state of active crisis wherein all possible factors that may lead to the resolution of the crisis (the person’s support system, coping and defense mechanisms, problem-solving skills, and etc.) prove to be inadequate. Individuals who are under the Phase IV of a crisis often exhibit impulsive and unproductive behavior, which usually lead to damage of relationships with close friends, workmates, and family members .
Based on the given descriptions of the different phases of crisis, it can be said that the subject in this case is under the fourth phase. Now, he may have been exhibiting a different set of signs and behaviors from the ones stated above but such signs and behaviors are not to be followed rigidly. They were simply meant to be used as guidelines. Nonetheless, the social workers from Golden Care Services considers Ken’s behaviors as blatant cry for help and that even though the subject may not be directly asking for help, he obviously needs it, especially professional help from a social worker or a group of it. Basically, Ken got traumatized after his friend was killed in front of him; after he received threats from the persons who murdered his roommate, all of whom are already in the federal government’s justice department’s custody. This means that the threat is already gone. Practically, no one can hurt Ken or his family anymore or threaten their safety. However, it makes sense for Ken to behave that way, feel afraid and engage in isolating himself because of the scenes he witnessed. This is where the work of the social workers and their tools such as the seven step crisis intervention theory enters.
- Application and Description of Crisis Intervention Strategies that May be Utilized, Using Robert’s Stage Crisis Intervention Model
It often proves to be beneficial to know the exact mechanisms or patterns of mechanisms how the subject, which in this case is Ken, usually comes up with his problems. This can be done by interviewing any close friend or family members about the subject’s past problems, how he reacted to the idea of having that kind of problem, how long it took for him to resolve the problem or crisis, and what methods he relied on to arrive at a point of positive crisis resolution. Being able to answer these questions should give the social agency and the assigned social workers a larger and clearer view of the picture. They can then use that picture to devise a strategy on how to solve the subject’s current problem. However, this can be easier said than done. Firstly, there is a very high likelihood that the subject has not encountered a problem or has been in a crisis of this kind and extent before. This will surely present as a challenge and a limitation to the proposed strategy since patterns may not prove to be very helpful. Nonetheless, sticking to the proposed strategy should give the social workers an idea what kind of person they are dealing with and how he is in terms of crisis intervention. This should constitute the social worker’s strategy for the crisis assessment stage as described in Roberts’ Crisis Intervention Model. In general, there are various types of assessment that need to be covered. However, these types of assessment can already be covered once the social workers receive answers to the assessment questions stated above. The second step is to identify the major problems present. This is where the crisis intervention becomes case-specific. The third step is the development or conceptualization of a modal coping style, which is actually one of the proposed steps in the first step of the proposed crisis intervention. The social worker’s active interaction with the subject often starts at stage four wherein they will interview and assess, actively, the subject. After having a clearer and more real-time idea of how the client really feels, what he most likely thinks whenever the memory of the traumatic incident revisits her mind, the social worker can proceed to step five wherein he has to provide more challenging questions and exercises to correct the client’s maladaptive thoughts, practices, and behaviors. This is perhaps the hardest part of the seven step process as some clients, particularly those who do not have high levels of coping mechanisms to a crisis often exhibit resistance. The step number six involves the finalization of a long term treatment plan for the subject. The social workers and the social agency have to ensure that the client follows the prescribed treatment plan to ensure the ultimate resolution of the crisis and to bring back the subject to his pre-crisis condition. The step number seven acts as a cherry on top wherein the social workers make steps and arrangements to track the progress of the subject and check whether the issue was actually resolved or otherwise. Based on their findings, they can do either of these two things: try to change the initially proposed treatment plan or stick with it and observe the subject’s reaction to it some more.
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