What is a Crisis Intervention and When is it Necessary?

When someone experiences a highly stressful event, they can go into crisis afterward if they cannot process what happened on their own. A crisis can be caused by a variety of situations, including traumatic experiences, natural disasters, mental or medical illness, grief, relationship changes, and more. When a person experiences these situations without the proper tools to cope, they will enter crisis mode.

Sometimes people who are experiencing a crisis have a hard time realizing that they have a problem that must be professionally treated. This is when a crisis intervention would be used. The goal of crisis intervention is similar to addiction intervention, as both processes work to get the individual to accept professional treatment.

Crisis interventions help people ensure immediate safety, learn coping mechanisms to use, and provide them with the option to attend professional treatment for their situation. Let’s take a look at what crisis intervention is and when it is necessary.

What is a Crisis Intervention?

Crisis intervention is a short-term and single-session technique to address an immediate mental health emergency. The goal of this process is to stabilize the person in crisis while creating and implementing a safety plan for their next steps and future treatment.[1]

Certified crisis intervention counselors may conduct interventions in hospitals, clinics, drug rehab centers, or at an individual’s home. It is important to note that a professional should always complete crisis interventions, as the person is suffering from a severe mental health reaction that needs to be adequately addressed. An intervention is not designed as a replacement for therapy or treatment, however, it is intended to get individuals prepared to receive assistance, resources, stabilization, and support.

Situations that may lead to a crisis include:[2]

  • Child abuse
  • Spouse abuse
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • A chronic ailment in the family
  • Lack of social support
  • Loss of employment
  • Eviction
  • Lack of food
  • Sudden or chronic financial strain
  • Neighborhood violence
  • Inadequate housing
  • Lack of community resources
  • The death of a loved one
  • Marriage or divorce
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Natural disasters
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental breakdown

When is a Crisis Intervention Necessary?

For many people, the ability to cope with change is learned over time. When someone is chronically experiencing traumatic events, they may have a difficult time learning how to cope.

Experiencing a crisis can cause a person to lose their ability to cope with stress, trauma, guilt, shame, or any other dilemma. This can lead an individual to lose their mental balance or begin abusing substances.

The signs that someone needs an intervention include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Frequent conflicts with others
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Having a hard time eating or sleeping
  • Abusing alcohol or other drugs

How Does a Crisis Intervention Work?

There are many different types of crisis interventions an individual could experience. Each form of crisis intervention shares the common goal of restoring stabilization in a person who has experienced a crisis. The most common crisis intervention procedures are:

The 7 Stage Crisis Intervention Model

The 7-stage crisis intervention model is also known as the Assessment, Crisis, Intervention, Trauma, Treatment (ACT) Model. This crisis intervention procedure is intended to be used as a guide to resolving crises and helping the individual return to normalcy.

The seven stages of the ACT model are listed below:[3]

  1. Plan and conduct a thorough biopsychological and danger assessment.
  2. Make a psychological contract and rapidly establish a collaborative relationship.
  3. Identify the major problems, including what caused the crisis.
  4. Encourage exploration of feelings and emotions.
  5. Create and explore alternatives and new coping strategies.
  6. Restore functioning through the use of an action plan.
  7. Plan for follow-up and additional sessions.

The SAFER-R Intervention Model

The SAFER-R intervention model is a popular approach to treating and handling a crisis. The goal of this model is also to return the individual to how things were before the crisis occurred.

This model follows 6 stages:[4]

  1. Stabilize
  2. Acknowledge
  3. Facilitate understanding
  4. Encourage adaptive coping
  5. Restore functioning
  6. Refer to treatment

The 10 Stages of Acute Traumatic Stress Management Model (ATSM)

The 10 stages of acute traumatic stress management is a crisis intervention model that uses 10 steps to help individuals return to normalcy and mental stability after experiencing crisis trauma.

The 10 stages of ATSM include:[5]

  1. Assess for danger/safety for self and others
  2. Consider the mechanism of injury
  3. Evaluate the level of responsiveness
  4. Address medical needs
  5. Observe and identify
  6. Connect with the individual
  7. Ground the individual
  8. Provide support
  9. Normalize the response
  10. Prepare for the future

Get Connected With a Crisis Interventionist Today

If your loved one is experiencing severe mental distress, they could be experiencing a crisis. When someone is in a mental health crisis, they require professional intervention to help them restore mental stability and ensure safety. Thankfully, programs like Addiction Intervention can provide you with a professional crisis interventionist to help you and your loved one overcome a crisis.

Contact Addiction Intervention today for more information on how to get started.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32644507/
  2. https://www.dshs.wa.gov/book/export/html/490
  3. http://triggered.stanford.clockss.org/ServeContent?url=http://btci.stanford.clockss.org%2Fcgi%2Fcontent%2Ffull%2F5%2F4%2F329
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559081
  5. https://www.nationalcenterforemotionalwellness.org/blank-jm0yz