How Can I Become a Crisis Intervention Counselor?

how-can-i-become-a-crisis-intervention-counselorIf you're a compassionate person who can keep calm and focused in stressful, and often traumatic, situations, a career as a crisis intervention counselor may be for you.

In the wake of the school shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, one of the most valued professionals involved was the Crisis Intervention Counselor. The counselors were available for the students and for the terrified parents and certainly helped sort out feelings and calm fears. You might have heard about the valuable work they did in the weeks following the tragedies and wondered if you could become someone who could help others through trauma.

What is a Crisis Intervention Counselor?

A definition from the website says that the purpose of this counseling is "supporting those who are in a state of acute mental health crisis often brought on by a recent trauma or long-term post-traumatic-stress-disorder." The goal of the professional is to be a stable influence in the life of someone who is dealing with intense feelings and to teach coping skills. Their duties may include:

• Working a suicide hotline
• Doing face-to-face counseling
• Teamwork with other local non-profits, state and federal agencies
• Keeping detailed notes of client interactions

They work for agencies like FEMA and for institutions like VA hospitals, where they counsel people with post-traumatic-stress-disorder. They may be on-call for police departments responding to domestic abuse or sexual assault cases.

What Education Is Needed?

You can become a counselor with a bachelor's degree in sociology, psychology, social work, counseling or another related field. You can also enter the profession through divinity school degrees as they include counseling in their curriculum.

Resource: Top 10 Online Social Work Degree Programs

Most states do not require certification, but if you have the education to qualify otherwise, you might consider becoming certified through one of several organizations that offer this service. Usually you will have to take a certification program. The American Institute of Healthcare Professionals is one such group that is highly regarded. Their program includes seven courses including:

• Crisis Intervention Theory—This includes the ethical and cultural issues that affect trauma
• Crisis Intervention Assessment and Treatment I and II —This is a study of current factors and issued related to determining the types and level of crisis the client faces
• Clinical Stress Management—In this course you will learn concepts and methods of stress management
• Relaxation Strategies—This is a class that teaches the anatomy of the central nervous system and discusses how breathing affects stress and tension
• Crisis Intervention Treatment Planning—In this course you learn how to combine your assessment with treatment goals and work with other professionals to reach those goals

The program, offered here as an example, requires that applicants have a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, sociology or a health-related field or that they are a licensed social worker, counselor or healthcare worker currently employed in their profession. Other acceptable applicants are those employed in criminal justice, EMTs or those currently employed in disaster response.

What is the Job Outlook and Salary?

The projected job outlook for these professionals is similar to substance abuse counselors. That growth outlook figure is about 30 per cent by the year 2022, which is much higher than average. The median salary is $38,250.

IF you are considering a career in which you can be at the forefront of aid to disaster or trauma victims, this may be the profession for you. Although certification is not necessary in all states, it could make you more employable as a Crisis Intervention Counselor.