Crisis Interventions

A person in crisis is essentially out of control at cognitive, emotional, behavioral, levels of functioning. They are unresponsive to verbal intervention; cannot think clearly or appropriately or express needs and concerns; display great fear, anger, and/or threats; may cry uncontrollably; and/or experience symptoms such as hyperventilation or nausea.

At this point the nurse may be reacting rather than intervening. Personal safety and the safety of others is paramount. Observing an out-of-control person is frightening and may trigger your own "fight or flight" response. Emotional containment is important so that proper procedures and protocols are remembered and followed.

Response to an out-of-control person may require physical and/or chemical restraint, in which case you should follow your healthcare organization's policies and procedures for next steps. It is important that you continue to engage the patient, tell them what you are doing and why you are doing it. Learn more …

Example of Acute-Level Crisis Intervention

For example: "Mr. White, I know you're very angry and upset. We're here to help you get control of yourself and make sure that nobody gets hurt. So we're going to give you some medication to calm down. And because you tore out your I.V., we need to restrain your arms for now, and have someone stay with you until the medication takes effect, OK?"

Page last reviewed: February 7, 2020