Everyone goes through a crisis at some point in their lives. Sometimes it can be happening to those around us or even in our communities, instead of directly to us. However, most people tend to sit on the sidelines when a crisis hits because they don’t know what to do.
No matter the type of crisis, we should all know some simple steps that help us, or our friends and family, overcome a crisis, especially when time matters.
Without a good understanding of how to handle a crisis in a biblical, helpful manner, you could create more damage physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Conversely, when you know some of the first steps to take in your own or another’s life, you can provide comfort and healing when it’s needed most.
So, how do we help those around us work through a crisis? What do we do when time is of the essence?
The I.F.O.C. provides training to handle all types of crises. Here are a few of our dependable tips to get started.
5 Steps to Help a Crisis When Time is Short
*Please note: the list below is not exhaustive, as everyone experiences and processes crises differently.
1. Be present. Just listen.
Everyone processes a crisis differently, but the most important thing is that they begin to talk and process it aloud with someone safe. If you’re someone who is trying to help, ease up on the questions and simply be present with them. Listen to whatever they have to say and encourage them, in a kind manner, to start, or keep, talking.
It’s important to note that not everyone is going to want to process their crisis right away, or some might not feel comfortable sharing with you directly. In this case, respect their needs and continue to be there for them at that moment.
The ministry of presence is far more helpful in a crisis than we think.
2. Encourage them to tell their story.
If the person you are helping starts talking and processing aloud with you, encourage them to tell their story. Be a conversational guide and help them walk through the crisis in a gentle and safe way.
This is where crisis intervention techniques can be helpful, as they help guide people’s stories through the event they are trying to process.
3. Grant them permission to process.
One of the most life-changing statements that you could say to someone as they’re processing a crisis is:
“What you are experiencing and the way you are feeling is normal.”
By doing this, it grants them the permission to feel whatever it is that they need to feel and to experience it in full. Letting them know that they are having a normal response to an abnormal situation can be powerful, as it frees them up from feeling like something is wrong with them.
4. Encourage healthy coping strategies.
Whenever someone goes through a crisis, whether it was emotionally or physically impacting, our bodies will try to cope with it in different ways. So, once the person has been given the safety and permission to process, the next aspect would be to encourage healthy coping strategies.
Some great coping tips that you can share are:
- Protect your sleep.
- Stay away from negatives like alcohol or caffeine.
- Surround yourself with safe people.
By giving them signs to look out for – such as high blood pressure, headaches, tense muscles, etc. – and ways to heal in a healthy manner, the person will be better equipped to cope with their crisis.
5. Agree to follow-up.
When you’re helping someone through a crisis, the most damaging thing you could do is walk away or leave them with tips but no tangible next steps. After you’ve been present with them, helped them process through their story, and given them healthy coping strategies, the next best thing you can do is agree to follow up.
After your talk, jot a quick note to them and put it in the mail. People cherish handwritten notes. Then put a reminder on your calendar for a week, two weeks, a month, and six months and check in with them through text, email, a call, or a coffee.
Check back in with them and make sure that they’re doing okay.
Connect them to resources they might need, like therapy or a place to stay, and help them get “back on their feet” the best that you can.
When dealing with crises, the conclusion of our work is connecting them to someone else. It never ends with us.
Overall, knowing a few simple steps that can help us, or our friends and family, overcome a crisis can be extremely powerful, as we never truly know when the next crisis will arise.
By being present, processing aloud, and getting equipped with healthy coping strategies and next steps, overcoming a crisis when time matters are possible.
These are just a few high-level steps that anyone can apply, but can be deepened with Chaplain training.
If you have the desire to help others through crises, or would like to deepen your crisis training, consider chaplaincy.