handle a crisis OUTSIDE OF GROUP

If a crisis occurs outside of group, it can be difficult to know what to do first. If the crisis is communicated through a group text, there may be some challenges within the group in dealing with the situation. Remember to maintain the boundaries you have set with participants, reference the 5 Strategies, refer to your resources, follow up, and use self/group care.

Prepare Yourself to Deal with the Crisis:

#1 Maintain Boundaries

It’s important in a crisis situation that you remember to hold healthy boundaries and remain calm. You need to recognize what you can or can’t do in these situations. Do not risk your own safety or healing.

“I had to learn the hard way that I can get lost in the trauma and recovery of another individual and that my own recovery and wellness can suffer when I don’t prioritize my own safety and well-being… In a moment of crisis before I respond, I take a breath and remind myself of what I can and cannot control. I cannot control other people and their actions, however painful those actions may be. I cannot control outcomes and what will happen. I am not in control of another person’s recovery. I cannot heal people. I remind myself of those things, not to become detached or uncaring but to ground myself. If I meet crisis with crisis it takes control. It helps me to be clear on what I am capable of because I am in recovery myself. My recovery and safety are important too.” –Sara, Finding Hope Support Group Leader

#2 Use the 5 Strategies

The 5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope are important tools you should use in these situations. Oftentimes, Power Through Surrender and Awareness are two strategies that can help the Group Leader and the group deal with a crisis that occurs outside of group.

“[One] of the strategies that has been helpful for me in dealing with crisis management: Power Through Surrender… I ask myself what I am capable of doing in the moment to offer help and support. I’m not willing to put myself or my family at risk. I need to surrender these things in order to move forward from a grounded and safe space with clarity about where and how I can use my power.” ―Sara, Finding Hope Support Group Leader

Action Steps:

#3 Provide Resources

Someone in crisis needs to be able to take advantage of resources designed to meet their needs. Connecting that person with resources helps them to begin to build their support network. (For resources outside of the US, please check with local authorities.)

  • Call 911 if the situation is life threatening. First responders will need a phone number and/or address if you have that information in order to do a welfare check. A welfare check occurs when the police respond to a requested area to check on the safety or well-being of a person.
  • If you are on the phone with the person in crisis and the situation is life-threatening, try to conference in the 911 operator or find another phone to call 911 in order to keep the person on the line.
  • If the person in crisis is suicidal, refer them to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

“Crisis management looks like doing the best we can with what we have available to us… For me, it is important to encourage the individual to take action and not to take the actions for them. Again, because it will be long-term work, it isn’t realistic for me to be doing those actions for them and for them to become that dependent on me. In essence, I offer support and hope and encourage them to take the next step in getting help. If I’m contacted by people who have been affected by the crisis, I encourage them to reach out to their resources and support networks. My experience is that it can be overwhelming and difficult to be the sole contact for many people in crisis.” –Sara, Finding Hope Support Group Leader

#4 Self-Care/Group Care

  • Once a crisis subsides, take time to take care of yourself. Use a grounding technique or refer to the 5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope.
  • Encourage members in the group chat or Facebook page to use grounding techniques that work best for each person.
  • At your next group meeting, address the crisis situation before you start the script. Check in with group members to help them understand that in a crisis we will call the proper resources based on the situation. As you review what happened, make sure the discussion reflects each person’s own experience during the crisis and how they dealt with it―not what the person in crisis did.

#5 Follow-up

  • Once you have connected the person in crisis with resources, it’s important to follow up.
  • You can send positive messages that they may or may not respond to.
  • Do not feel that you need to stay in constant contact. Maintain your boundaries and follow your intuition.