Tag Archives: crisis

Crisis Intervention

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Do you know what to do during a crisis? The crisis can be as simple as an overflowing toilet, or as perilous as receiving life-threatening health news with many other possibilities in between.

Here are a couple of definitions for crisis. A crisis is defined as a time when we are faced with some circumstance, news, or event that we have never been faced with before. A crisis can also include being faced with an event, circumstance or news that is similar to a previous experience, but our usual problem solving and coping strategies don’t work to solve the problem.

If you’ve ever had the unhappy experience of an overflowing toilet then you probably already know how to cope. But what if your usual strategies and problem solving steps don’t work? Now your toilet continues to overflow, pouring out more and more water so that your bathroom begins to flood. If you don’t know what to do besides what you have already done and you still are not having success dealing with the water and impending flood then you are in a crisis.

The Chinese symbols for our single English word crisis are two side by side symbols meaning opportunity and danger. In other words, a crisis is a potentially dangerous time AND a time where opportunities for change are most pregnant.


Normally when a person is faced with a problem that is not solved using their usual strategies, or a new problem needing some resolution and solution there is also an increase urgency to act quickly! This urge to DO SOMETHING NOW in fact can be counter-productive during a crisis. But it is hard for your logical mind to over rule you emotionally driven desire for quick action and positive results!

A crisis ends in one of three ways:

  1.               A person may be no better off, nor worse off once the crisis has resolve.
  2.              Or a person may be better off with improvement in herself, her life, or both once the crisis has resolved.
  3.              Or the quality of a person’s life may be worse following the crisis than it was before the crisis began.

Here are some simple (but not necessarily easy) steps to follow when you are faced with any crisis:

  1. SLOW DOWN! Take enough time to breath in and breath out for at least 30 – 60 seconds, telling your self to go slow. There are a few times and crisis when                       taking quick and immediate action is necessary. But there are far more problems         and crisis where there is enough time to go slower and slowly with more                           beneficial results and outcomes.
  1. Clearly define the problem. This includes clearly defining how the world would be if the problem was solved.

                                    What do you want? 

  1. List all steps you have already taken to solve the problem and have the world as you want it to be.

What are you doing now to get what you want? 

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of these present problem solving strategies.

Is what Im doing working? 

  1. Brainstorm ALL possible additional solutions. Get help from wherever you can if you can think of no additional options.
  1. Choose the best options from the brainstorm list and make a plan to solve the problem and achieve your hope for results using other strategies and solutions.
  1. Evaluated the effectiveness of new plan.
  1. Repeat steps 5-7 until your problem is solved, or your crisis is resolved.

Aiming to resolve the crisis where you are at least as Mentally Happy & Healthy               as you were prior to the crisis is the minimal goal.

This simple (but not necessarily easy) process will help to solve many problems and resolve many crises. You can test this out by simply reviewing a recent problem that you solved or crisis that you handled. Aren’t these the very steps that you took?

Are you facing a present problem or crisis? Try following the above strategy and see if it actually is helpful.

There is one more blog to be written offering more ideas and help when dealing with a crisis or problem. This will include a few more strategies than this step-by-step process.

For now see if you can improve your Mental Health & Happiness by using your coping strategies to help decrease your upset enough to follow this process. Then follow these steps.

Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting

By Dr. Ken Larsen

I remember the first time I heard the legend of Sisyphus, the Greek king who was condemned to roll a large boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down so he could push it back up again.  He was doomed to repeat this over and over and over for the rest of time.  This story is a good example of some of our frustrating behaviors.  Sometimes we get stuck doing the same thing over and over, wondering why we don’t get the desired result.

Fortunately for many of us we experience some sort of crisis when we are stuck in this manandwheelendless repetition of frustrating behavior.   For an addict or alcoholic, it may be that 3rd DUI, or an intervention with friends or family.  For others it may be a relationship that is falling apart and we realize we’re losing something or someone that we don’t want to lose.  Or maybe we missed a promotion or got fired.  Something in our life that looms large enough to force us to take a look at where we’re going.

In our culture “crisis” is often looked at as a bad thing.  I’m suggesting it may be a good thing if it helps us change our life’s direction.  I see a crisis as nothing more than a crossroads where we are faced with two things.  One is the realization that the road we are on is not taking us where we want to go.  The second thing is we are forced to face alternative choices.

Dr. Bob Wubbolding, a longtime colleague of Dr. Glasser’s, formulated a useful acronym that is helpful when we find ourselves in crisis.  That acronym is WDEP.  Let’s look at how this can help.

  • W stands for “What do you want?”  When you are in a jam, what do you want beyond just wanting to get out of the jam?  What do you want in your life to help you get your needs met and get you connected to the people you want in your life?  What do you want and need to be happy?
  • D stands for “what are you Doing?  In a crisis you get a good look at something you are doing that is not working.  This is where you begin to see how your choices are leading you toward mental health and happiness or away from it.
  • Stands for “Evaluate what you’re doing” to see how what you are doing is helping or hindering you in getting what you want.
  • Stands for “Plan.”  There is no perfect plan, but most folks recognize by this time that if what they are doing is not getting them what they want, it is good to have a plan to either change what they are doing or change what they want, or both.

A good thing to do at his point in your search for mental health and happiness is to read “Choice Theory” by Dr. Wm.  Glasser.  If  you have already read it, read it again.  I guarantee you will gain fresh insights each time you read it.