How Crisis Intervention Can Change a Young Person’s Life

Crisis intervention is the process of offering short-term immediate support to individuals who have experienced an event that produces, or has the potential to produce, mental, physical, emotional and behavioural distress. The effects of such events in a child’s life can be varied, but structured intervention can serve to help the young person move forward.

In the UK, crisis intervention centres provide refuge for over 1,000 young people. Typically, these children are traumatised and display challenging behaviour that requires one-to-one attention from qualified carers.

A large proportion of young people enlisted in crisis intervention programmes within the UK are referred by local authorities or social services. Interestingly, these places are often funded by a combination of social services, local health authorities and education authorities which helps to offset the cost of the high number of places needed.

After referral to a crisis intervention programme, the young person is usually quite distressed. This may manifest in a variety of ways and the child may feel frightened, angry, upset and confused. Social workers within the programme will support that young person, providing guidance and support. This is achieved using empathy, listening and analysis of social situations surrounding the child in order to resolve psycho-social problems.

Crisis intervention programmes often incorporate counselling and support for long-term improvement of a young person’s mental and physical wellbeing, hastening the process of achieving stabilisation.

Once the immediate danger to the child has been addressed, carers will try and understand a baseline to how a child reacts to situations in order to understand differences in behaviour. Changes in behaviour can include inappropriate talk, comments or actions, isolation, lack of eye contact, inability to focus and motivation problems. Every child is different and crisis intervention aims to help young people adjust back to normality.

The social worker will build a relationship with the young person, proving to them that they can be trusted. This can involve agreeing on short-term goals and suggesting alternative coping methods such as outdoor activities such as rowing or climbing.

Crisis intervention programmes can have large successes with young people and completely change their lives. Taking the young people out of the immediate danger is vital, but crisis intervention programmes also work alongside other care factors such as home-schooling, counselling and outdoor activities to provide children and young people with opportunities, skills, confidence and hope. Children are often taught additional skill developments such as focusing on conflict resolution skills.

At A Wilderness Way, Wilderness Experiences is a mobile children in crisis intervention programme which provides care for children and young people. We do this through both planned and emergency admissions as a result of crisis intervention, supporting any child or young person who has been subject to abuse, neglect or exploitation. We also support children who may be at risk for reasons emerging from family circumstance, gang involvement and witness to serious crimes.

Our crisis intervention services provide 2 to 1 intensive emotional support for our children. Beth, a young person who had been subject to exploitation arrived at A Wilderness Way withdrawn and frightened.

Our staff worked with Beth using a specialised ARCH programme of care in order to help her understand how to build trusting relationships. Activities such as spending time with animals also encouraged Beth and allowed her to experience the freedom of childhood for the first time in many years. As she became more at ease, she began to communicate with her social workers about her history and what she had been through.

Beth returned to live with her mother in a new area and is now happy and settled in her new community. She is attending school full-time, has many friends and has become a child once again. To find out more about Beth, see her success story here.

If you have any questions relating to placement and our crisis intervention services, please get in touch with our referrals team at


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