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Chapter 4 – The Assessment Set


Crises are not always what they
seem to be.  For example, Michelle is in
what might be considered a suicidal crisis, that is, she might kill herself if
something is not done.  To the casual
observer, it may seem that the “possible suicide” is the crisis.  Of course, Michelle’s killing herself is the
“potential” of the crisis.  But it is not
the crisis itself.  The crisis exists in
the temporary and serious interaction problem between Michelle and her
situation.


Wanda’s anger is almost rage
like.  “That bastard—my husband—can’t
think that he can treat me that way and that I’ll just sit around and do
nothing.  He’ll find out that I’m not
just that quiet little mouse he thinks he married.  I’m going to do it this time.  I won’t stand for it.  He can’t do that and get away with it.”


What did Wanda’s husband do?  What is she going to do?  From her initial angry comments, we are
unable to answer either question. 
Nonetheless, considering how angry she is, we get a sense that her
actions may not work out very well.  Within
those actions lies the now potential of the crisis.  Whatever her husband did seems to have
precipitated the crisis.  We can see,
then, that Wanda is between the precipitating event and acting out the now
potential.  For her, though, the crisis
is now.  Her present interaction (with
you) is the first focal point.  Your
assessment of her crisis will expand to include both the precipitating event
and the now potential.  You will look at
possible causes and possible cumulative effects.  Gradually, you can develop a picture of her
crisis in a careful and caring way. 
Nonetheless, starting where Wanda is now and expanding your
understanding from there allows you to assess her crisis effectively, gives
emphasis to your “now” relationship with her, avoids the possibility of
oversimplifying the crisis, on the one hand, or seeing it as more complex than
it really is, on the other.  You can help
Wanda both understand and deal with her crisis as it really is.




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