Medical crisis counseling took its popularity as one of the alternative methods for medical practitioners in the process of healing their patients. Basing from the definition of crisis intervention, medical crisis counseling provides short term help to patients having terminal diseases to ease their stress and worries. These stress can be emotional, behavioral or mental and if not addressed would have further complications to the patients. Thus, medical crisis counseling presents itself as one of the alternative ways of healing.
For several years, medicine has focused mainly on how to get rid with the disease or pain that it brings. However, what was neglected is the psychological pain that it may cause patients undergoing the diseases. Fear, uncertainty and depression can cause other complications to the patient, so in this time of the generation, crisis counseling is being included in most of the medical process.
According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, crisis intervention has several purposes. It aims to reduce the intensity of an individual’s emotional, mental, physical and behavioral reactions to a crisis. Another purpose is to help individuals return to their level of functioning before the crisis. This is very necessary for patients who are on the verge of depression because of their illness. They have to condition their mindset as if it was before the illness came so they can have larger possibilities of coping to any challenges that they may face in the future.
One of the breakthroughs in crisis intervention is the development of the Medical Crisis Counseling Model. This was conceptualized by Irene Pollin, a social worker, who herself had experienced loss of two children from chronic conditions. As Pollin defines the model, it is a brief and focused activity to counsel and to tap the patient’s natural coping mechanism and to reinforce his or her strength. This model has also been assured by Pollin that is accessible for people who lack time and money for counseling.
Like any crisis intervention methods, the Medical Crisis Counseling Model helps the patient first understand the crisis and is given an avenue to air out his anger and guilt. According to Norman Wright in his book on crisis and trauma counseling, major focus of crisis intervention is exploring coping strategies. Strategies that the individual previously used but that have not been used to deal with the current crisis may be enhanced or bolstered. Also, new coping skills may be developed.
The Medical Crisis Counseling that was developed by Pollin is based on the challenges of having a chronic condition. The patient can experience a lot of uncomfortable situations like social isolation, physical changes and a new lifestyle. So it is the objective of the Medical Crisis Counseling to let the patient live life fully despite of his ailment or condition.
In the article of Roberts, et. al, on the Medical Crisis Counseling, the model is built on four assumptions: (1) the focus of the model is the medical condition; (2) the crisis is assumed to be temporary and there is still a chance for the patient to learn; (3) the patient will undergo adjustments in the course of the chronic illness, so it must be prepared and; (4) patients have inherent strength to draw upon. These assumptions are necessary to achieve the best results for the model. It has to be taken into consideration that the patient is in a very delicate situation, so any adjustments in his life should not be pushed aggressively.
The model as well suggests some issues that must be considered while doing the counseling to the patient. The counselor who undertakes the model to the patient should be sensitive to these issues. However, each issue must be tackled well in order to put a direction of healing to the patient.
Among the issues presented, what seems to be a challenge is the fear of losing control on the part of the patient. According to Pollin, the aspect of powerlessness and helplessness comes into the picture. Naturally, when this feeling happens, the patient seems to lose hope on himself. Regardless of the other fears that he is feeling, having no control at all to the future might bring about other issues. Losing control also means having the fear of living. A patient losing meaning to life would mean that he would not be open at all to the battle to his illness.
This is actually one of the interesting facets of medical counseling. With the other issues also important to be considered, however, putting the patient back to at least a normal life looks like a big challenge to counselors. That is why one of the important things to be set when doing the Medical Crisis Counseling is setting therapeutic goals. Like on any endeavor, these goals can actually put the patient into an “assignment” that would promise her an ease for her situation. There can be other challenges along the way, but therapeutic goals serves as a benchmark for progress on the part of the patient.
The Medical Crisis Counseling model also acknowledged the role of the family support and spiritual factors that can help facilitate the healing of the patient. One of the challenges for patients is the feeling of being alone in this endeavor. The role of friends and family are crucial for supporting the patient. In the same way, the family becomes also a participant in the process so they can understand as well the plight of their loved one undergoing the sickness. Lastly, the spiritual involvement in the process also gives an interesting leverage. It is a bridge for patients to understand the questions of life and to put hope on his situation.
Crisis intervention, if done timely and correctly can do a lot of healing to patients. For people who are in the most difficult journey of their life, a caring support can ease their pain and put them into better light.
Joneis., & Thomas, P. (2003). Crisis intervention: An entry from Thomson Gale’s Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. Chicago: Thomson Gale.
Pollin, I. (1995). Medical crisis counseling: Short-term therapy for long-term illness. New York: Norton.
Roberts, S. A., Kiselica, M. S., & Fredrickson, S. A. (2002). Quality of life of persons with medical illnesses: counseling’s holistic contribution (Practice & Theory). Journal of Counseling and Development, 12, 33-35.
Wright, H. N. (2003). The New Guide to Crisis & Trauma Counseling. Ventura, CA: Regal Books.