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In general terms, any critical situation can be defined as the situation of impossibility, i.e., the circumstances under which a person fails to realize his or her internal needs, motives, aspirations, values, etc. (Fahrutdinova & Nugmanova, 2015). A similar precondition for the crisis emergence can be observed in the described case study. The returned soldier expected to see his family right after the landing but failed to see them because they were unaware of his arrival and were engaged in regular daily activities. It is possible to presume that the incident induced an episode of acute frustration in the man. He likely had a strong urge to reunite with the family after a long time of separation but faced barriers, primarily of external, socio-cultural character, i.e., his children and wife were at school and work following particular norms and rules of social conduct. As a result, the soldier’s internal dissatisfaction and disappointment translated into acts of violence at a broader community level, using which he aimed to eliminate the obstacles to the fulfillment of his needs.
As stated by James and Gilliland (2012), in each case of a crisis, various factors and issues overlap. The assumption is applicable to the given case study as well. Many military veterans are at risk of PTSD development, which is correlated with a greater level of engagement in violent behaviors (Elbogen et al., 2014). Possible chronic individual psychological problems and social factors outlined in the previous paragraph could act together to trigger the disruptive behavior. This observation is consistent with the provisions of Lewin’s field theory. The theorist suggested that “the individual and the world [community, systems, subsystems, etc.] interact with and influence each other” (Myer & Moore, 2006, p. 138). In the given context, the crisis arises if the relationships between the individual and the world are misbalanced. In the case of the returned infantryman, this relational misbalance (e.g., the lack of gratitude for his service in community members) resulted in a kind of vengeance, compensation for the psychological distress.
The situation can also be explained from the perspective of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. When applied to the field of crisis psychology, the inability to fulfill the basic needs (psychological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs) and consequent frustration based on non-fulfillment of those needs are malignant in their nature and do not allow individuals to meet higher-rank needs of self-esteem and self-actualization (Best, Day, McCarthy, Darlington, & Pinchback, 2008). While higher-rank needs are less important for survival and their fulfillment can be postponed, lower-rank needs are essential. As it was already mentioned above, the impossibility to meet these needs (i.e., mainly belongingness and love needs) caused the psychological crisis in the man.
The crisis described in the case study can be handled via the Hybrid model of Crisis Intervention. It involves the following steps: ensuring client safety, predisposition (development of psychological connection, clarifying intentions), the definition of the problem, provision of support (psychological and informational), the examination of alternatives, plan development, obtainment of the client’s commitment, and follow-up (James & Gilliland, 2012). First of all, it is essential to develop a bond with the client. To do so, appropriate non-verbal and verbal behavior methods must be applied: the counselor should show that he or she does not pose any threat and is there to help. Since the case is likely related to the issue of belongingness, love needs, respect, etc., the ability of the counselor to bond with him may define the overall outcome. Afterward, through active listening and asking some clarifying questions, the specialist can identify the exact factors that contributed to the crisis. After the completion of the given step, it will be possible to provide the client with all possible alternatives for the alleviation of the problem and its consequences.
Later on, at the stage of plan development, particular ideas on how the client can deal with the crisis can be offered. For example, since it is considered that “persons experiencing higher levels of need satisfaction will have lower levels of tension and will not be in a state of deprivation,” it is important to motivate the client to achieve self-actualization through step-by-step fulfillment of lower-rank needs (Acton & Malathum, 2000, p. 797). First, by communicating with the client, the counselor will identify the barriers and deficiencies, which he is currently experiencing, and will provide all the necessary information and support for him to engage in self-management activities aimed at the elimination of those various external and internal barriers. Precise time frames must be established to ensure the client’s commitment to intervention.
Crisis therapy largely differs from long-term interventions. When working with such a client, the specialist may not be able to implement all the traditional therapeutic tools. The quality of communication, as well as attentiveness to various behavioral details and cues, are essential in dealing with the crisis. Since the review of the theories revealed that the critical situation related to non-fulfillment of basic, inherent needs, the coping strategies should focus on the provision of resources needed to fill existing psychological and emotional deficiencies.
Acton, G. J., & Malathum, P. (2000). Basic need status and health-promoting self-care behavior in adults. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 22(7), 796-811.
Best, D., Day, E., McCarthy, T., Darlington, I., & Pinchbeck, K. (2008). The Hierarchy of Needs and care planning in addiction services: What Maslow can tell us about addressing competing priorities? Addiction Research & Theory, 16(4), 305-307.
Elbogen, E. B., Johnson, S. C., Wagner, H. R., Sullivan, C., Taft, C. T., & Beckham, J. C. (2014). Violent behaviour and post-traumatic stress disorder in US Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 204(5), 368–375.
Fahrutdinova, L. R., & Nugmanova, D. R. (2015). Dynamics of psychological crisis experience with psychological consulting by gestalt therapy methods. Global Journal of Health Science, 7(4), 130–135.
James, R. K., & Gilliland, B. E. (2012). Crisis intervention strategies (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Myer, R. A., & Moore, H. B. (2006). Crisis in context theory: An ecological model. Journal of Counseling & Development, 84(2), 139-147.