Book Reviews

Crisis Counseling

A Guide for Pastors and Professionals

Scott Floyd Grand Rapids 2008-02-12

Ministers in local churches and parachurch organizations are expected to provide care in times of crisis or tragedy. The typical pastor invests many hours each week helping people in the church and community. Whether the crisis involves a death, a school shooting, or a devastating hurricane, in overwhelming situations both believers and nonbelievers turn to men and women of God for physical help, comfort, and answers. In this how-to manual Floyd, associate professor of psychology and counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, helps ministers understand the nature of crisis events, the ways people respond, and how to  render effective aid in the hours and days following the crisis and afterwards.

The first four chapters explain the scriptural basis, relationships, and differences between four key terms: “crisis,” “trauma,” “loss,” and “grief.” These chapters set the stage for the heart of the book in chapters 5–7, in which Floyd discusses how people respond differently in crises. Particularly helpful is his delineation of effective coping and ineffective coping. For ministers with minimal training in counseling, this model, although formulaic, gives common-sense strategies to equip caretakers. For example Floyd shows readers how to use the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) approach when helping trauma victims “decompress.” This model is not meant to take the place of long-term counseling, but it is invaluable when the minister is called to assist with triage. The caretaker asks victims to relate the facts of the trauma, then their thoughts during the event, next their reactions or emotions, and then the minister suggests available resources for the victims. This process takes place in an initial session and can help set the individual on the path to recovery.

Floyd presents two other intervention strategies needed in other crisis situations. The first shows the caretaker how to help others with stress and the second with loss and the grieving process. Additional chapters include crisis counseling for children and adolescents. His final chapter helps readers deal with the stress, burnout, and secondary trauma that may endanger the spiritual, emotional, and mental health of the caregiver.

The book is filled with true-life examples, including the author’s own experience in helping survivors of the shootings at Wedgewood Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas, in 1999. His twenty-five years of experience and his ability to explain his methods clearly make this an important book for ministers, especially those who feel out of their element when called on to aid in a crisis.

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