Crisis situations represent a powerful traumatic event which may trigger a severe emotional reaction, so that the usual balance between thinking and emotions is disturbed, the usual coping mechanisms fail and signs for dysfunction become apparent.
It has been shown that a rapid intervention after such a traumatic stress experience alleviates the psychological impact of such an event and greatly facilitates the resilience of a person. This is why it is vitally important to have a crisis intervention plan in place in your team or at your base. People are psychologically also more resilient, if they undergo some training prior to some possible incident. For instance, if I understand the dynamics of kidnapping I will be much better prepared to deal with the emotional stress of such an event and show appropriate responses which may even decide over life or death.
Crisis intervention is an active, short-term and supportive helping process with the goal to lessen the crisis response (trauma) in victims of a crisis situation. It basically serves as a psychological first aid. Therefore, it does not replace a possibly needed psychotherapy or counseling. It is important to note that it does not deal with the event itself (like police, firefighters, rescue teams etc.) but with the emotional response of people.
Crisis intervention must be simple, brief, practical, close and immediate. This means, first of all, that it should take place within 12 hours but no later than 72 hours of the incident. If a whole group is affected it should take place within 1-10 days after the event. In order to achieve such a short response time, we need to work on a better framework on all levels in YWAM, so that we have enough trained people who can deal with crisis situations effectively and are available on short notice. An intervention will typically last about one hour. Simple steps are followed which provide clarity and structure to the process which is very important in a chaotic situation.
– Reinhard Hämmerle