Select one crisis type from each of the following categories (totaling three crises):
a crisis with an individual, couple, or family
a crisis in the community
a crisis in the nation or in the world
The crises you select may be crises you personally experienced, learned about through this
course, or heard about on the news, past or present.
Then, for each:
�Describe the crisis including: the event/situation, implications, responders, victims,
survivors, and perpetrators.
�Describe the forms of critical incident assessment you might use.
�Explain the potential short-term and long-term effects that might be experienced by the
people impacted by the crisis.
�Describe the particular competencies you would need to counsel people impacted by the
�Explain the anticipated outcomes for immediate, short-term, and long-term interventions
�Explain the cultural, ethical, and legal implications that need to be considered.
�Explain potential vicarious trauma and countertransference that might occur between you
and the people you might counsel from this crisis.
As a final point, explain what insights you had or conclusions you drew from completing this
Crisis, Trauma, and Disaster Response
In recent times, there have been numerous reports of conflicts that have hit nations and
the world at large. Some of the crises plunge the affected parties in traumatic situations. The
crisis varies relatively in their severity and incidence of occurrence. A student might face a crisis
which impedes on his or her ability to study; a community might face a crisis when the only
water source becomes infected with a waterborne disease, or a nation might be plunged into a
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 2
crisis when its citizenry suffer from severe food shortage (Dass-Brailsford, 2010). The paper that
follows will address the subject of crisis, trauma, and disaster response with a bias on crises that
affect individuals, communities and nations.
A. Personal Crisis
A personal crisis is one that affects an individual. When a student faces a crisis that
affects his or her academics such a student should work on seeking help that will help him or her
resolve the crisis. Personal crises involving students might emanate from events which ordinarily
fail to fit into the student’s normal schedule. The events might include being robbed, moving
houses mid the semester, terminal illness, being assaulted or the death of a close family member.
Personal crisis can also emanate from or be triggered by internal stressors, which are considered
to be internal to the person suffering from the stressors. Suicidal thoughts in the head might
persuade a person to do that which is not right (Kanel, 2010).
Complex situations share some characteristics in common. For example, most if not all
crisis situations are complex and difficult to resolve, they may place the lives of the persons
close to the crisis-stricken individual in danger, might threaten the personal safety and
psychological well being of the person in crisis, can plunge one in a state of emotional turmoil
and laden with feeling of disorganization. Most crises also force an individual to take heavy
decisions which involve significant choices, crises cannot be resolved by a good night sleep, and
are best addressed when the person in crisis receives support form family, friends, and a
qualified practitioner (Gilliland, & James, 2013).
For the purpose of this section, the paper will discuss loss of an only child as an example
of a personal crisis. Different parents exercise different parenting styles when it comes to the
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 3
attachment they have on their children. This attachment is more pronounced among parents that
have only one child. The relationship between the parent and the only child is considered strong
and secured by a bond that cannot be easily broken. When this child falls ill, the parent will be
seen to run up and down to ensure that the condition ailing the child is treated within the shortest
time possible. Certain diseases are mild and as thus they are easily treatable and the child is
released back to the care of the parents. However, in certain instances, disease or accidents can
claim the life of an only child. Such a loss is quite substantial to the parents of this deceased
child. The manner in which the bereaved parents handle the loss of their only child will
determine whether a crisis will develop or not. Psychological trauma can easily arise if the grief
and bereavement is not properly handled.
Critical incident assessment
Triage Assessment System (TAS) is considered the best assessment tool that can be used
to assess and suggest ways of intervening in cases of personal crisis (Gilliland & James, 2013).
This tool assesses the behavioral, cognitive and affective reactions of the person in a crisis event.
This assessment enables clinicians to determine with certainty the nature and type of crisis an
individual is experiencing while at the same time determining the intensity of these reactions.
TAS affords a quick, concise, and easy-to-use method that can be employed in the process of
crisis intervention. TAS evaluates the severity of the crisis situation by being systematic, rapid
and intentional. This method of assessment is preferred because it offers support to the client in
gaining mobility, equilibrium, and autonomy.
The social workers assess the level and intensity of crisis presented by the crisis-stricken
individual in three main domains; behavioral (doing), affective (feeling), and cognitive
(thinking). The assessment of the affective domain enables crisis worker to determine the
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 4
primary reaction which might include fear, melancholy, or anger. Behavioral reactions include
immobility (freeze, fright or fight) or avoidance. Cognitive reactions that can be expressed by the
crisis-stricken relates to the manner in which the client perceives the crisis event. The
perceptions recorded at this juncture may occur in any domain of life: social, psychological,
physical, values, beliefs, and environmental.
The TAS used uses a graduated scale with each of the three domains rated on a linear
scale of 1 to 10 where 10 marks the highest level of the domain being measured or assessed. This
means that the total TAS score for a parent that has lost an only child can range between 3 and
30 with three showing no impairment and 30 showing the most severe score that the individual
can possibly score (Gilliland, & James, 2013). Affective or feelings are measured based on
criteria that include liability of mood, the degree or amount of effort required to maintain
volitional control of affect, and congruence of affect to situation. Cognitive assessment measures
the crisis stricken person’s ability to focus, concentrate, make decisions and solve problems.
Short-Term and Long Term effect on the parent
Loss of a child let alone if the deceased child was an only child is considered traumatic
on the parents of the dead child. Grief stricken parents are affected by the death of an only child
more than they would be affected if the deceased child was not an only child. These bereaved
parents often feel like life has snatched their loved one off their grip. It is commonplace to find
some of the parents blaming themselves for the death of the child. Some might attribute the
blame to God for taking away their child. In the short term, the dissolution of the attachment
relationship between the parent and the dead child often plunges them into a situation of anxiety
and a host of negative emotions that are easily associated with loss. It is also possible for the
parents to feel guilty for their inability to protect their child. The death of an only child also has
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 5
some long term effects on the parents. For instance, the bereaved parents often feel like the death
of their only child has brought about instability in their relationship. Sadly, some parents enter
into the blame game and such can be injurious to the marriage. Sadly, some shocking statistics
reveal that there is a steady rise in divorce rate among parents that have lost their only child
Competencies needed to counsel Parents that have lost their only child
The death of an only child, particularly at the infancy stage can potentially break and
shatter a parent. The counselor counseling with a parent that has lost a child must be equipped
with certain skills. The counselor must offer a hearing ear to the bereaved parent and allow them
vent out their anger, and sorrow. It is also important to establish the cause of death of the child.
The counselor must be able to extend empathy to the parent. It is important for me as a counselor
to get to assess any risks that might emanate from the grief that has been occasioned by the death
of the child. I would also help in preparing the bereaved parent for the grieving period and
encourage them to grieve for their loved ones. It will also be important to refer the grieving
parent to a grief therapist for further help.
The primary goal of crisis intervention is to ensure that crisis-stricken party, who in this
case is the parent, is facilitated to grieve properly for their dead child. An immediate outcome
would be to bring the parent to the realization that the child is no more and that it is not their
fault that the child died. One of the most important short-term outcomes would be to guide the
parent to grieve in an appropriate way. In the long term, the counselor should ensure that the
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 6
grieving process is not unnecessarily prolonged. The grieving parent should be monitored closely
to ensure that they do not become health hazards to themselves and the people around them.
Cultural, ethical, and legal implications that need to be considered while dealing with grieving
Cultural influences entails religious affiliations and spiritual beliefs that explain the
meaning of life and death and may also go to the extent o setting out a specific way in which the
bereaved can mourn their beloved child. Some cultures set out the duration that the bereaved
must mourn. Ethically, grief is a normal feeling that all persons should be allowed to express. It
is part of human nature (Gilliland, & James, 2013). Going through life with pain and sorrow
bottled-up inside is dangerous and might lead one to give up on life and develop suicidal
tendencies. Legally, the cause of death must be investigated and this might prolong the grieving
period particularly if the death of the child is linked to some foul play or illegalities.
Potential vicarious trauma and counter transference
Vicarious Trauma happens when the crisis worker absorbs the trauma experienced by his
or her client. This occurs after counter transference in which the crisis worker becomes
emotionally entangled with the client. Depending on the level of grief that the bereaved is in,
there is a possibility that I might expose self to vicarious trauma and counter transference.
Sometimes it is impractical to shield self from getting affected by the cases presented by the
client. Vicarious trauma and counter transference might occur as a result of over sympathizing
and getting overly attached to the client.
B. Community Crisis
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 7
Community crisis affects a wider cross-section of members in the community. Under
financing and under staffing have plunged most community health programs into a place of
crisis. The quality of care and capacity to expand the community service dealing with patients
suffering from mental retardation is the primary cause of this community crisis. Under staffing
and under financing has caused the transfer of mentally retarded persons to the care of the
community without first instituting measures that will equip community members to care for
their disabled (Gilliland, & James, 2013). Consequently, the members of the community have
entered into a place of practicing unnecessary control over the lives of the people with disability.
The pressure associated with such a transfer places both the mentally retarded person and the
sane community members at a risk.
Critical incident assessment
The Crisis Assessment and Treatment (CAT) and the Enhanced Crisis Assessment and
Treatment (ECAT) can be used to assess the effect that mental retardation has on the community.
CAT is an outreach that is community based whose primary concern is to assess and treat people
suffering from acute mental retardation. ECAT is resorted to incase of an emergency (Gilliland,
& James, 2013). This helps in dealing with emergency cases presented by the mentally retarded
persons. Both the CAT and ECAT assessment tools can be applied to mitigate against the crisis
that mental retardation places on the community. The assessment is supervised by trained social
workers with experience in dealing with crises of this nature and magnitude. The correct
application of the assessment and treating regime will substantially reduce the severity of the
Potential short-term and long-term effects that might be experienced by the people impacted by
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 8
As the name suggests, community crisis affects the entire community. The correct
application of the CAT and ECAT programs will offer some reprieve of sorts to the community.
In the short term, the application of the assessment procedure will relieve the community of the
pressure associated with single-handedly caring for the mentally retarded persons. In actual
sense, the CAT will ensure that persons with mental retardation are taken care of and that they
are provided with appropriate medical and social support (Gilliland, & James, 2013). In the long
term, such a program will significantly reduce the burden of care that has been left on the
shoulders of the community due to understaffing and lack of sufficient funding to run care
programs for the mentally retarded persons.
Particular competencies you would need to counsel people impacted by the community
The counselor dealing with persons suffering from community crisis must possess certain
skill. As a counselor, listening skills is very important to enable the counselor ascertain the
severity of the crisis. Listening skills will also enable the counselor to determine the extent to
which the community is affected by the crisis. Granted, counseling persons suffering from a
community crisis is no mean feat. Matter of fact a community crisis is less severe as compared to
the individual crisis. While counseling the persons affected by a community crisis, the counselor
must be able to ascertain the veracity of the claims made by community members. After
ascertaining this, then the counselor can proceed with counseling and seek out ways to help the
members of the community deal with the crisis at hand. The counselor must also be able to offer
some basic training to the affected community members and seek to encourage the members of
the community to manage the crisis at the community level and care for their mentally retarded
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 9
Once the counselor starts working with an affected community, there are certain
outcomes that can be recorded or observed immediately while others will occur in the short and
long term. One of the notable outcomes that will be seen immediately entails that in which the
community will receive some relief of sorts. In the short-term, the counselor will train the
affected community on coping skills and on how to treat and care for their members who are
mentally retarded. In the long term, the counselor can seek cooperation from relevant authorities
and establish a community-based that will care for the persons suffering from mental illness.
Cultural, ethical, and legal implications that need to be considered
For the counseling session to be a success, the counselor must consider the ethical
considerations that revolve around the rights that the mentally retarded person has. It is important
for the counselor to let the members of the community appreciate and understand that despite the
fact that the perpetrators or causers of the crisis are a nuisance and in the opinion of some might
very well qualify to be locked away in some institution for the mentally ill, they must come on
board and learn to co-exist with them because they are part of the diverse community (Miller,
2013). An important aspect of counseling requires the counselor to understand the cultural
background in which the persons seeking his or her services come from. Some cultures regard
mental illness as a curse or a taboo. Others look at it as a punishment from the gods and as thus
they treat the persons with mental illness as outcasts. Families whose loved ones present such a
condition might suffer trauma that is inflicted on them by the society. It is very important to start
by debriefing the members of the community and do some teaching on the real cause of the
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 10
Legally, the persons suffering from the mental conditions are still regarded as human
beings and they have rights. This means that they cannot be confined without a justifiable cause.
An appreciation of what the law says about persons with mental retardation is important because
it will determine the situations in which the counselor might be forced to recommend
institutionalization of a mentally ill person.
Potential vicarious trauma and counter transference
Unlike in the personal crisis where the counselor is involved in one on one session with
the client, the CAS is designed in such a way that the counselor is in contact with a group of
people at a time. However, even in such a setting it is possible for the counselor to suffer from
vicarious trauma and counter transference (Miller, 2013). To prevent this from happening, the
counselor can erect boundaries and determine ahead of time of the far they would wish to go in a
particular session. This will enable the counselor to remain objective and guide the patient to a
C. Crisis in the nation
A crisis can as well occur in a scale that it affects the whole nation in one way or another.
The United States has been hit by many catastrophic events, most of which have plunged the
country into a situation of crisis. The September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center
will remain to be the highlight of the crises that has hit the US in recent times. There is no single
time in the history of America that the Americans ever felt vulnerable and exposed like they did
after the September 11 attacks (Kanel, 2010). This attack was traumatic to many people both in
the US and in the other countries of the world. Granted, the terror attack in itself was a traumatic
event but it brought along its path a myriad of crises. The perpetrators of these atrocities are
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 11
confirmed to be the members of the terror group that went by the name of Al-Qaeda, whose
leader was the late Osama Bin Laden.
There are different people that got affected by the attacks. First, there were the victims of
the attack. Of course all passengers aboard the three planes lost their lives. Additionally, the
workers at the part of the Pentagon that was attacked and those that working in the World Trade
Centre lost their lives and the attack left in its wake a serious shuttering of human life and
property. This meant that the counselors of that time had their work cut out for them as they
helped the families come in terms with the loss of their loved ones while at the same time
debriefing the survivors and helping them get back to the business of living. This was no simple
task; the number of casualties, deaths, and destruction wrecked havoc in America. Because of the
nature of the crises that developed from the attack, this paper will only focus on the crises that
affected the employees working on a building adjacent to the World Trade Centre.
Critical incident assessment
A holistic approach was applied to interpret the various emergent issues. The primary goal of the
assessment and the intervention was to re-establish the pre-crisis level of functioning among the
employees affected by the events of the September 11 attacks. Other goals included prevention
of the escalation of psychological problems to severe levels, and also to help organizations revert
to a sense of normalcy. This crisis was unique in the sense that all the crises were related and it
was practically impossible to distinguish one from another. This is the reason why a holistic
approach was taken to handle the crisis. The survivors at ground zero had a conflict while their
families also had a conflict. The survivors were traumatized by the whole event while their
families expressed anger with the survivors for causing them to worry by not contacting them
immediately after the attack. Clinicians diagnosed the survivors as suffering from Acute Stress
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 12
Disorder, Adjustment Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The family members of the
survivors were also diagnosed with conditions that include Generalized Anxiety Disorder and
Separation Anxiety Disorder (Gilliland, & James, 2013).
Potential short-term and long-term effects
The national crises the hit the US created a host of short term and long term effects. In
the short term, many people lost their lives. The survivors of the incident were left traumatized.
Organizations such as the Wall Street had to close business for some time. Employees lost their
jobs because their working premises were cordoned off as part of the ground zero (Miller, 2013).
Organizations lost business in the days following the attacks. In the short term families were
plunged into anxiety as they frantically tried to get a hold of their loved ones. The event left a big
mess in its wake (Pauchant & Mitroff, 1992).
In the long run, some of the survivors were left with disabilities. Some lost a limb; others
lost their sights among other host of disabilities. Aside from physical disabilities, nearly all of the
survivors had deep rooted scars. These scars had been imprinted by the events of the terror
attack. These traumas caused most of the survivors to develop a phobia for flights while others
had extended sleepless nights dotted with horrible nightmares.
Competencies you would need to counsel people impacted by the crisis.
Some of the most important competency that a counselor must have before counseling
survivors of a terror attack includes empathy and patience. The counselor must exercise patience
with the survivors. Some of the interventions might require a long time to be executed and as
thus the counselor must be ready and willing to work closely with the survivor to achieve the
short term goals and the long term objectives (Weber, 2011). The counselor should also have
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 13
good listening skills so as to be able to unearth the underlying conditions that the client is
Anticipated outcomes for immediate, short-term, and long-term intervention
Once the counselor starts working with the affected survivors, there are certain outcomes
that can be recorded or observed immediately while others will occur in the short and long term.
One of the notable outcomes that will be seen immediately entails that in which the survivors
will receive some relief of sorts. In the short-term, the counselor will train coping skills to the
survivors. In the long term, the counselor can establish a support group for the survivors of the
Cultural, ethical, and legal implications that need to be considered
The crisis assessment and intervention can only be made successful if the counselor
considers the different cultures from where the survivors come from. Ethically, the counselor
must ensure that the records on each of the survivor are kept safely. Legally, the counselor must
ensure that the rights of the survivors are upheld throughout the intervention (Miller, 2013).
Vicarious trauma and counter transference
Unlike the personal and community crisis, here the intervention is applied to a group. It
is therefore not very easy for the counselor to suffer from vicarious trauma and counter
transference. However in instances where the counselor gets to schedule a one on one session
with any of the survivors then the same vicarious trauma and counter transference that occurs in
individuals can occur here.
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 14
This assignment has enabled me to gain an understanding of crises and how they affect
different groups of people. I have learnt that crises can be classified according to their magnitude
or the people they affect. For instance, there are those crises that affect an individual, a
community, and a nation (Kanel, 2010). The assignment has helped me to gain an insight on the
possible vicarious traumas and counter transference that might occur in the course of the
intervention process. I have learnt of the different forms of critical incident assessment that can
be used in addressing the crises that the clients are going through. Additionally, I have learnt that
as a counselor I must possess certain skills and competencies that will allow me conduct my job
in the best way possible. Finally, I have learnt that it is important to consider the cultural, ethical,
and legal implications of the entire intervention process.
CRISIS, TRAUMA, AND DISASTER RESPONSE 15
Dass-Brailsford, P. (2010). Crisis and disaster counseling: Lessons learned from Hurricane
Katrina and other disasters. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Gilliland, B. E., & James, R. K. (2013). Crisis intervention strategies. Cancage Learning. Print
Kanel, K. (2012). A guide to crisis intervention. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Miller, G. (2013). Fundamentals of crisis counseling. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
Pauchant, T. C., & Mitroff, I. I. (1992). Transforming the crisis-prone organization: Preventing
individual, organizational, and environmental tragedies. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Weber, J. G. (2011). Individual and family stress and crises. Los Angeles: SAGE.