This text is intended as a primary text for courses on helping skills. These courses are offered at the undergraduate level in departments of human services, social work, and psychology and focus on teaching students helping skills (as opposed to clinical skills). The book will focus on helping students understand the nature of helping relationships and the specific skills involved in initiating and maintaining a helping relationship. It is a brief, practice and skills based book for an undergraduate non-clinical audience. Part I will cover the following topics: self Awareness, the helping process, and ethics in helping. The second part will focus on skills such as listening and hearing, empathy, reflecting, paraphrasing, questioning, clarifying, exploring, offering feedback, encouragement and psycho-education. The last two chapters will focus on individuals in crisis, and helping in groups – two areas often encountered by helping professionals. The book is enhaced by brief video clips that demonstrate key skills.

Helping People in Crisis

Helping people in crisis

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how natural or human-made disasters affect victims
  • Identify a number of risk factors and warning signs related to risk of harm to self and others
  • Explain initial response priorities for working with helpees who are experiencing crises or where there are concerns about harm to self or others


The term crisis generally refers to an event that causes extreme stress and compromises a person's normal functioning. The experience of crisis typically results in a temporary sense of disequilibrium and a breakdown in normal coping mechanisms (Cavaiola & Colford, 2006; Collins & Collins, 2005). That is, a crisis is something that happens to someone—by surprise or not—and causes so much stress that the individual has difficulties coping.

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