How an Advanced Counseling Degree Can Help with Different Types of Crisis Management

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A crisis counselor helps a client while sitting on a couch.


Crisis intervention counselors support people dealing with critical life issues, such as the aftermath of natural disasters or acute mental health issues that may lead to self-harm. Their counseling differs from other forms of counseling by focusing on delivering short-term treatment to resolve crises immediately. Other psychotherapeutic fields focus on securing long-term mental well-being for clients experiencing varying levels of grief.

This job requires working with patients experiencing extreme levels of mental distress; therefore, the best candidates must have in-depth knowledge of how to identify the needs of someone who’s experienced a crisis and be capable of quickly strategizing a plan of care. Aspiring mental health counselors can expand their knowledge of the different types of crisis management through pursuit of a Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling degree with a clinical mental health specialization. Read on to learn more about the types of crisis management and how professionals can develop the necessary skills to help address them.

Helping Others Through Difficult Times

Crisis counselors have specialized training that prepares them to deal with a wide range of emergency scenarios. Counselors use their specific knowledge of crisis management to step in and help when natural and man-made disasters occur in a community. They identify which community members are most vulnerable, and they deliver acute mental health care that can potentially save lives.

For example, in the wake of a sudden natural disaster that takes lives, the grief may leave survivors overwhelmed and unable to cope. Crisis counselors have the duty to step in and soften the impact by giving clients the education and tools they need to begin the healing process.

This strategy applies to more than just natural disasters, as crisis counselors are also called on to help veterans, children and others. For example, helping veterans recover from the acute mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, they may have developed while working in war zones is a common challenge for these counselors. Likewise, children require a different form of care than adults, and men and women may have different counseling needs depending on the tragedy.

Providing a Unique Form of Treatment

Different types of crisis management counseling are applied to help individuals cope with specific short-term issues, while general psychotherapy aims to improve overall mental well-being by addressing a broad range of personal mental health issues. For instance, when someone is severely injured in an accident, a crisis counselor should assess the associated trauma to determine the immediate psychological damage and develop a short-term care strategy that will prevent the trauma from causing further damage. The short-term intervention offered by crisis management counselors serves to smooth the victim’s transition into the long-term mental health care services offered by therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists.

Crisis counselors leverage their knowledge of the effects of grief and loss to deliver calm, compassionate care nonjudgmentally. Face-to-face counseling sessions are the most common way crisis counselors meet with their clients. Crisis counselors will discuss the situations troubling their patients, take notes and work with them over time to provide remedies. When it isn’t possible to directly meet with their clients, crisis counselors may also use voice and video calls to deliver counseling.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a unique service where crisis counselors can be accessed. Through this service, people experiencing suicidal thoughts can call in to reach anonymous counselors who can help them cope with the stress factors making them consider self-harm.

It Builds Rapport in a Community

It’s always hard when tragedy strikes a community, but crisis management counselors can help soften the adverse effects of those tragedies by advocating for the members of the impacted communities. Crisis management counselors typically have a good understanding of which social services are available to the different populations in their communities. They can use this knowledge to ensure that, following a crisis, people are able to access the resources they need to return to living normal lives. In some instances, they can also use their insight to act as liaisons who coordinate with government and nonprofit organizations to gain additional support in communities.

For example, if a student dies from a terminal illness or a sudden accident, schools often consult crisis management counselors to determine how they can best limit the emotional trauma this event has on the students and their families. The solutions they may suggest include offering students time off from class or making grief counselors available to those students who need them. Each crisis is different, but pursuing higher education prepares aspiring counselors with the various tools they need to supply lifesaving support to the communities that need it most.

Learn More About an MA in Counseling

In any type of crisis management scenario, it’s up to crisis management counselors to be innovative in assessing patients’ needs and finding the most feasible solutions. By completing Wake Forest University’s online MA in Counseling program, graduates learn how emotional disturbances can spread throughout a community and how they can take preventive steps to stop crises from having a long-lasting impact on the mental health of community members.

Learn more about how Wake Forest’s online MA in Counseling program prepares students with the advanced counseling skills they need to understand how people deal with grief, trauma and tragedy, making them strong candidates for lucrative careers in the counseling profession.

Recommended Readings:

How to Improve Mental Health on a Daily Basis

What to Expect in Counseling Courses

What Is Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Why Is It Important?



Houston Chronicle, “What Are the Responsibilities of a Crisis Intervention Manager?”

OECD, Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management in the United States

Wake Forest University, 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Crisis Counseling

Wake Forest University, Online Master’s in Counseling Program

WebMD, Guide to Psychiatry and Counseling