Six Step Model to Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention refers to the methods that are implemented to offer short term assistance to a victim that is suffering physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral distress.  Many trauma victims are not capable of coping with the effects of the crisis on their own accord and are in dire need of psychological assistance and support. (James & Gilliland, 2013)  Clinicians must display a series of skills that enable them to successfully support their client.   This paper will review a case study found in the Journal of Individual Psychology in which the clinician utilized Gilliland’s Six Step Model of crisis intervention and proved this method successful.

In the article titled, “Integrating Crisis Theory and Individual Psychology: An Application and Case Study”, provided by the journal we are introduced to Kate, a young adult that is currently in her second year of an undergraduate program.  Kate remains focused and strives to accomplish her educational goals and remain a prime example for her younger siblings.  Kate’s mother is very involved in her life and expects Kate to complete her degree and establish a career before focusing on building a family.  Kate feels a lot of pressure from the expectations held by her parents, specifically her mother.  These expectations have made it difficult for Kate to cope with the news of being pregnant, and shortly after the miscarriage.  In fear that she is a disappointment and shaming her family she has experienced difficulty focusing on class assignments, become withdrawn from friends and family, has trouble sleeping, and extreme anxiety.

Individuals like Kate often have difficulty in adapting to new challenges and environments.  Instead they adhere to the adaptive ways of their family upbringing; causing difficulty in coping with an uncomfortable situation.   (Parikh & Morris, 2011)  Individuals become more involved in the role they play in their family unit and the rules of the family culture, rather than themselves as an individual.  Kate’s crisis has become difficult to work through on her own based on the connection that bonds her with members of her family and her individual role.  Kate very distraught with her current situation has reached out to the counselor at the university.  Luciana, the campus counselor has been supporting Kate and helping her discover new coping mechanisms that will allow her to work through the pregnancy crisis.

Luciana has utilized the six step model in order to help Kate.  Using the six step model, Luciana focuses on listening, interpreting, and responding in a systematic manner to assist Kate in order to return her to a pre-crisis psychological state.  As we have learned from James & Gilliand (2013) we know that the six step model is split into two phases; the listening phase and the action phase.  During the listening phase, Luciana defines the problem, ensures Kate’s safety, and provides support.  In defining the problem, active listening is critical.  While defining the problem, Luciana has discovered Kate’s inner most feelings are contributing to her fear of being a bad person and helps understand what the true crisis is.  In step two, the counselor focuses on ensuring the client’s safety.  Luciana makes a professional assessment to conclude Kate is in no way harmful to herself or others.  In fact, Kate is so worried about her social role with her family and friends that she would in no way want to sadden those in her social circle.  There is also no history of suicidal thoughts or plans.  She has been cleared of any physical harm.  In step three, Luciana established herself as a support system.   This stage is critical to gain the client’s trust, as the counselor remains positive without passing judgement.  By empathizing with her client, Luciana is successful in addressing hidden fears and helps avoid social rejection.  In the action phase the counselor will actively develop a plan of action through brainstorming and commitment.  By looking at the situation and the individuals that have already stepped up to provide support for Kate during the crisis, Luciana’s able to establish an ongoing support system in Kate’s social circle. Although, the two have never spoken about the miscarriage, Kate believes her mom is aware of the situation and has been comforting Kate.   Kate is terrified of how her friends will take the news that she caused the miscarriage due to her irresponsible actions.  Luciana focuses on the same fear that Kate bestowed regarding the initial news that she was pregnant.  The friends that found out about the pregnancy were supportive.  Challenging Kate to focus on alternative responses helps prepare her for a more positive and controlled situation.  In stage five, Luciana empowers Kate, by enabling her with control of how much information she will share with her social network of close friends and family in order to work through the crisis.  Finally, Kate is able to commit to a plan of action in which she will journal each day, tell a friend about the miscarriage, thank her mother for her kind actions, and email her professors to get an extension on the assignments she has missed.

The six-step model has been an effective approach to working through Kate’s personal crisis.  Kate was able to work through her fears and evaluate alternative solutions in order to remain connected and in control of her social life.  By working through each step she was able to redefine herself and find meaningful ways to cope with the shift in her environment.

In this case study provided by the Journal of Individual Psychology we have established the success of the integrated psychological approach to crisis intervention.  The six step model by Gilliland allows clinicians to redefine problem solving and coping mechanisms empowering clients to overcome a traumatic and critical situation.


James, R. & Gilliland, K. (2013). Crisis Intervention Strategies (7th ed). Cengage Learning Inc. Obtained from

Tedrick Parikh, S. J., & Wachter Morris, C. A. (2011). Integrating Crisis Theory and Individual Psychology: An Application and Case Study. Journal Of Individual Psychology, 67(4), 364-379.

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