Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Guiding Principles
  • Prevention is always the best form of crisis intervention and can be used at any stage to prevent further escalation of the crisis.
  • Crises can be construed as danger or opportunity for growth (Aguilera, 1994): a danger in that the individual or family may be dramatically influenced by its negative effects on mental health, or an opportunity because, at times of crisis, individuals are more susceptible, more open to therapeutic intervention (Wooley, 1990).
  • Crisis intervention is an active process that focuses on the immediate problem as perceived and identified by the client or client advocate.
  • Crisis intervention is time-limited, and all interventions including assessment, treatment and follow-up usually occur within eight contacts (face-to-face or telephone)(Baldwin, 1977).
  • Crisis intervention is employed in the least restrictive environment.
  • Crisis intervention is timely, flexible and accessible 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
  • Nurses work within an interdisciplinary team and in collaboration with the client, the family, physician, case manager or other community support agencies to stabilize the person in crisis.
  • Client advocacy is an essential component of crisis intervention.
  • The quality of the therapeutic relationship affects the outcome of crisis intervention (Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, 2002b).