What Kind of Counselor Helps Prevent Violent Crime

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As violent crimes increase, including mass shootings, so do security efforts at various public venues, and threat assessment teams can now be found everywhere from school districts and college campuses to corporate headquarters and theme parks.

Besides schools, colleges, and private companies, the federal government has also increased its threat assessment efforts: Behavioral Analysis Unit, a little-known FBI team fictionalized by the television show Criminal Minds  and based in Quantico, Virginia,¹ now marshals more than a dozen specialists in security and psychology from across five federal agencies to assist local authorities who seek help in heading off would-be killers.

The goal of these task forces is simple: to attempt to intercept and deflect those individuals who may potentially be violent, and steer them toward a more positive path. What kind of counselors work with these task forces, and what roles do they play?

School Counselors

Children and teens spend a large part of their time at school, and behaviors displayed in the classroom and hallways can be warning signs of a deeper problem. School counselors play an integral role in task forces arranged by school districts to intervene in the lives of students who might be potentially violent.²

Far from just being a sounding board for the students, school counselors often recommend group support and other forms of therapy, and even issue referrals for medical intervention. The counselor often plays a role with parents as well, assisting them in getting students the help they need.

Personal Counselors

Just because students have moved past high school does not mean they are no longer a danger to themselves or others. Counties and community health organizations have partnered with local counselors and therapists in adult threat assessment teams that not only continue to support those cases begun in high school, but also work with law enforcement on adult intervention.³

While with students, participation in such programs can be mandated, it is much more difficult to compel adults to comply with intervention efforts unless they have already committed a crime, or can be proven to be an active threat. Counselors and other task force participants must be creative to ensure participation, and use a variety of approaches.

Therapists and Psychologists

Before any of these tasks forces can be implemented, counselors and others must work to develop best practices and guidelines. Therapists and psychologist, together with school counselors and others collaborate to develop steps to detect and deter those with a propensity toward violence.

These teams constantly learn and evolve, using innovative methods learned from individual cases and the success or failure of previous interventions, and the input from counselors from all levels of the process helps inform these changes.

Getting your degree in counseling online at Wake Forest can prepare you to make a difference in your community in a variety of ways. Working in the counseling field, you may even be part of a team that helps prevent violent crime.



¹ http://forensicpsych.umwblogs.org/fbi/history-of-the-fbi/behavioral-analysis-unit/

² https://www.nccpsafety.org/assets/files/library/Threat_Assessment_Teams_for_Troubled_Students.pdf

³ https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/10/mass-shootings-threat-assessment-shooter-fbi-columbine/