A crisis counselor works with clients who have been through crises, listening to clients and providing resources (and, as applicable, suggestions) related to the crisis and clients' specific needs. Generally, the objective is not to get clients to forget about the crisis, but to help them develop strategies for coping and processing trauma. The counseling may be private or take place in a group counseling setting depending on the situation and position. Additionally, some counselors work with youth and/or families.
Crisis counselors must follow all of their organization's rules related to privacy and procedures for handling crisis counseling and crisis situations. They need to have knowledge of screening procedures and be able to carry out testing to determine patients' needs. The crisis counselor should also have extensive knowledge as to the effects of trauma on patients and effective coping/processing strategies. A counselor should be empathetic and understanding, while at the same time remain professional and objective.
Requirements for crisis counselor positions vary depending on the employer and position. Some positions require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field such as psychology, though some only require an associate’s degree. Some positions in this field may require special certification as well, and proficiency with basic computer programs is typically needed. There are both part-time and full-time crisis counselor positions available, and the hours may vary depending on the employer's hours of operation and the specific position's requirements. Usually this job takes place in an office setting, though there may be some travel necessary to carry out the position's duties.
Crisis Counselor Tasks
Report on interactions and escalate serious cases.
Screen and assess patients for mental, chemical and other factors to determine next steps.
Work with clients over the phone or in person to determine the crisis and immediate needs.
Identify appropriate resources and connect clients to assistance.