A crisis intervention center is a public or privately run facility that offers a variety of services, often specific to certain types of issues like domestic violence or severe mental health disturbance. In many communities, these centers offer walk-in services for people suffering mental distress due to illness, or traumatic experiences such as domestic violence or rape. In addition to crisis intervention, these centers may also provide ongoing assistance to families or individuals recovering from a crisis, or tools to avoid a crisis altogether. Exactly how each center is organized and the types of help it gives is variable.
In a standard model, a crisis intervention center may offer two types of services to community members, which may be free of charge, depend on donations of users, or be paid by health insurance. A telephone hotline to address people’s issues is the first of these services, and these are usually free. Callers can speak to trained staff, frequently discussing problems with licensed counselors or those who have undergone intervention training. Some centers only offer telephone services and may be better defined as crisis hotlines. If ongoing support is needed, staff at a hotline could make referrals to other forms of local community assistance.
Very frequently, the crisis intervention center has a location like an office people in need can visit. Those in need of immediate support and, in some instances, people at physical risk from self-harm or violence by others could gain assistance immediately. These centers are usually staffed by a variety of experts, such as therapists, psychiatrists, and other trained staff that can counsel, direct individuals to ongoing community services or make arrangements to move people to shelters or help them report a rape to authorities. A psychiatric or suicide crisis intervention center could determine that greater intervention is needed with patients and might refer them to mental health hospitals.
A third service that some crisis intervention centers offer is crisis prevention through ongoing education and support. A few centers offer a variety of programs in which community members can participate even if they’re not directly experiencing a crisis. For example, some mental health centers have ongoing counseling or psychiatric services, and a center that protects people from domestic violence might also offer anger management or parenting classes.
The most common crisis intervention center programs deal with mental illness, suicide, rape, and domestic violence. A professionally organized facility can be a boon to a community, helping people to survive very difficult experiences and possibly offering ongoing support or prevention services that reduce the number of crises related to specific issues.