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Crisis Intervention provides immediate stabilization of acute symptoms of mental illness.

A part of the emergency department in a hospital, where an individual experiencing a psychiatric crisis can receive immediate treatment for mental and emotional distress, substance use disorders, trauma, and psychosocial stressors. Crisis Intervention offers psychiatric evaluation and referral to either a higher level of care within the hospital system or appropriate outpatient services when needed (CARF International, 2019). 

Crisis intervention has several purposes. First, it aims to reduce the intensity of emotional, mental, physical and behavioral reactions to a crisis. Another purpose is to help an individual return to their level of functioning before they experienced the crisis. Functioning may be improved by developing new coping skills such as withdrawal, isolation and substance use. In this way, the individual is better equipped to cope with future difficulties. Through talking about what happened, and the feelings about what happened, while developing new skills and ways to cope and solve problems, crisis intervention aims to assist the individual in recovering from the crisis and to prevent serious long-term problems from developing ("Crisis Intervention, n.d.).

The following outline the steps a crisis therapist will generally follow:

Identification: Identification that a problem exists and needs attention is the first step in dealing with a crisis. Therapists need to carefully assess internal and external causes of a crisis and be able to intervene promptly.


Assessment: After identifying a crisis situation, a therapist must perform an assessment or evaluation in a calm and supportive environment. This assessment needs to include verbal and non-verbal information, mental status, biopsychosocial history and current functioning, substance use, collateral information from family, and a risk assessment including suicidal thoughts and behavior. 


Intervention: After identification and assessment of the crisis, a plan of action needs to be collaboratively developed in order to provide stabilization and referral to the next level of care. This could include transfer to inpatient and/or outpatient treatment in order to reduce symptoms and improve functioning (Stevens & Ellerbrock-Bendele, 1997).

Skills and Support for Coping with Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)
TTY: 1-800-799-4889


24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call is routed to the nearest crisis center in the national network of more than 150 crisis centers.


SAMHSA's National Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357)
TTY: 1-800-487-4889


Also known as, the Treatment Referral Routing Service, this Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish

Dr. Justin Capote Interview

Justin Capote, MD, is Board Certified in both adult psychiatry and consultation-liaison psychiatry and was appointed to the American Health Council Board of Physicians for his outstanding contributions to improving mental health. Dr. Capote has extensive experience working in hospital, community, and emergency room settings. He has expertise in treating conditions related to medication overuse and misuse, withdrawal syndromes, age-related comorbidities, and common psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, anger, and depression. Dr. Capote is a graduate of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and a member of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.


Click the links below to find out more about Crisis Intervention.


Dr. Justin Capote


Treatment Locator


Crisis Fact Sheets


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