When we normally think of crisis intervention, we think of adults responding to events in their personal life. Of course, people young and old can require crisis intervention, and not just from events in their personal life. School violence, natural disasters and other elements can require crisis intervention.
Werner (2015) noted that the tow most important activities school counsellors can do to prepare for crisis events are to develop a comprehensive crisis plan and to practice it regularly. The goal of the PREPaRE Curriculum is to train mental health worker, school psychologists and other administrators, educators and clinicians to develop such a crisis plan, to build a crisis team to execute that plan and to understand the tasks of crisis intervention in the aftermath of a crisis.
School Crisis Intervention
Most school counsellors receive little or no crisis intervention training and therefore enter the field feeling unprepared to handle tasks that become assigned to them in the aftermath of a crisis. (Allen, et. al., 2002) Training like the PREPaRE Model and other programs can help bridge this gap.
Knox & Roberts (2005) performed a comprehensive literature review on school crisis intervention and specifically crisis intervention teams. They found that there was a need for well-thought out crisis intervention programs and plans before crises occur, and that there were similarities in the literature about how experts believed response to a crisis should be structured.
They recommended school crisis intervention be split into three phases:
Primary prevention activities are those that are provided to all students in order to promote safety and health. These could be “conflict resolution, gun safety and safe driving courses, alcohol and drug awareness programs, teenage parenting resources, and suicide prevention programs.” (Knox & Roberts, 2005; p.94)
Secondary prevention activities focus on individuals in the aftermath of a crisis in order to limit its impact. This can include physical measures like moving students, debriefing and immediate crisis intervention in the aftermath, and notifying parents and the media.
Tertiary interventions include long-term counselling and psychotherapy that extends after the crisis period ends and the school environment returns to normal.
- Prevent and Prepare for psychological trauma
- Reaffirm physical health, perceptions of security and safety
- Evaluate psychological trauma risk
- Provide interventions and Respond to psychological needs
- Examine the effectiveness of crisis prevention and intervention
The PREPare Model is structured around two workshops. The first (1-day) workshop is provided for all school staff to teach them how the crisis team and crisis intervention works, while the second (2-day) workshop is designed specifically for crisis team members.
The following information comes from Nickerson et. al. (2014):
Crisis Prevention and Preparedness (1-day workshop for all staff)
- Identify four characteristics of a crisis event.
- Identify the key concepts associated with the PREPaRE acronym.
- Describe the four activities of the school crisis team.
- Understand the importance of hierarchical crisis team structure and response.
- Identify the five major functions of the Incident Command System (ICS).
- Identify strategies for communicating with school boards creating or sustaining teams.
- Identify three concepts related to crime prevention through environmental design.
- Identify guiding principles in crisis plan development.
- Identify essential components of crisis plans.
- Identify key concepts from the workshop that their crisis team needs to learn or address to be adequately prepared for crisis situations
Crisis Intervention and Recovery (2-day workshop for crisis intervention staff)
- Report improved attitudes toward, and readiness to provide, school crisis intervention.
- Identify the variables that determine the traumatizing potential of a crisis event.
- Identify the range of school crisis interventions indicated by the PREPaRE acronym.
- Indicate how school crisis interventions fit into the larger school crisis response.
- Specify the critical factors in evaluating psychological trauma risk after a crisis event.
- Match psychological trauma risk to a range of appropriate school crisis interventions.
Elements of a Crisis Team
A crisis team should be in place before a crisis occurs so that they can immediately get to work after a crisis occurs. Knox & Roberts (2005) recommend that the team be comprised of 4-8 multidisciplinary members (e.g. Principal, counsellor, nurse, etc.)
Responding to a Crisis
Brock (2006) indicates a variety of responses for each level of the framework that are available to the mental health professional facilitating a crisis intervention. These items assume that a crisis has already occurred.
Reaffirm physical health, perceptions of security and safety
- Meet physical needs like shelter and water
- Provide a sense of safety by removing individuals from the site of a crisis
- Remove or restrict access to dangerous objects or crisis site (remove sharps, put up barriers, etc.)
Evaluate psychological trauma risk
- Evaluate exposure to crisis and note reactions (physical, behavioural, cognitive)
- Examine internal and external resources (within the school and local community agencies)
- Refer clients to psychotherapy where possible
Provide interventions and Respond to psychological needs
- Re-establish social support systems. This can involve
- Provide psycho-education: Empower survivors and their caregivers
- Provide immediate crisis intervention
- Provide/Refer for longer term crisis intervention
Evaluation of the PREPaRE Curriculum
Brock et. al. (2011) performed the initial evaluation of the program and found that participants significantly improved on their skills related to crisis prevention, crisis intervention and displayed high general satisfaction with the workshops. When Nickerson et. al. (2014) evaluated the PREPaRE after making changes they found that these benefits continued to be demonstrated in follow-ups, proving the efficacy of the program.
Training in the PREPaRE Model
Brock (2006) publishes the content of the PREPaRE workshop online, where they can be accessed in order to help individuals build their crisis intervention skills. Additionally, workshops can be accessed through the National Association for School Psychologists (NASP).
Allen, M., Burt, K., Bryan, E., Carter, D., Orsi, R, & Durkan, L.(2002). School counselors’ preparation for and participation in crisis intervention. Professional School Counseling, 6, 96-102
Brock, S.E. (2006) “Crisis Intervention Training”, Workshop PDF. Accessed on November 19, 2016 from www.csus.edu/indiv/b/brocks/workshops/district/smfcsd.12.06.pdf
Brock, S. E., Nickerson, A. B., Reeves, M. A., Savage, T. A., & Woitaszewski, S. A. (2011). Development, Evaluation, and Future Directions of the PREPaRE School Crisis Prevention and Intervention Training Curriculum. Journal Of School Violence, 10(1), 34-52. doi:10.1080/15388220.2010.519268
Knox, K., & Roberts, A. (2005). Crisis intervention and crisis team models in schools. Children & Schools, 27(2), 93-100.
Nickerson, A. B., Serwacki, M. L., Brock, S. E., Savage, T. A., Woitaszewski, S. A., & Louvar Reeves, M. A. (2014). PROGRAM EVALUATION OF THE PREPaRE SCHOOL CRISIS PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION TRAINING CURRICULUM. Psychology In The Schools, 51(5), 466-479. doi:10.1002/pits.21757