It is normal to feel “off balance” during crisis intervention, particularly when the situation involves professional vulnerability, victims with a great deal of suffering, or personal issues of your own.
You may experience reactions such as:
- Feeling helpless
- Guilt over perceived “inadequacies”
- Anger at the situation
- Urge to “rescue” victims
- Distrust of the school system, law enforcement or social agencies
- Concern about professional and legal liabilities relating to crisis involvement
- Re-emergence of personal unfinished issues
- Later on, feelings of turmoil, needfulness, doubt
Enter into crisis intervention with reasonable expectations for what you can do.
BEFORE THE INCIDENT
Build team relationships and build your skills.
Know your own “hot spots”, related to your personal history, life circumstances and personality.
Be aware of your own needs and current stress level.
DURING THE INCIDENT
Stay in touch with your feelings and needs.
- Are you hungry, thirsty, or tired?
Remember to take breaks for eating, bathroom, etc. You cannot help care for others if you are not taking care of yourself.
- Are you feeling anxious, agitated, overwhelmed, or manipulated?
Set limits for your own involvement. Keep a healthy perspective and maintain objectivity. Take a break if you or someone else feels you need one.
Stay aware of your level of receptivity.
- Are you becoming excessively disengaged or enmeshed?
- Are you over-identifying?
If you are feeling unaffected, rational and under firm control, consider seeing things more from the victims’ perspective.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, hopeless/helpless or without resources, back off and seek support.
- Network with and utilize the perceptions, ideas and support of fellow responders.
Ask for personal assistance or for temporary or permanent release when you need it. There is no place for super heroes when the well being of others is at stake.
FOLLOWING THE INCIDENT
- Talk about the incident with a trusted person or team member.
- Participate in debriefing activities with the team.
- Develop a health-oriented plan with constructive coping and stress management strategies. Avoid or minimize use of alcohol and substances.
- Utilize professional, family, and social networks to support recovery.
- Adjust your schedule if possible, to allow for rest, recreation and recovery.
Source: Adapted from the Brandywine School District Crisis Response Manual