This course will provide a foundation of the theoretical concepts associated with the impact and consequences of acute stress on victims, first responders, families, and community members, taking into account the process of grief and loss, complicated grief, dying, death, and bereavement, and the long term consequences of unresolved trauma. Particular attention is paid to the treatment of the human stress response, effective counseling strategies, methods and techniques for immediate response, comorbidity, anxiety and depression, abuse, impact dynamics of crisis and trauma, survivor guilt, and cultural sensitivity.
For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.
The definition of stress is becoming broader as anxiety and stress-related illnesses are now one of the major contributors to mental illness in the United States. According to the American Institute of Stress, 1/3 of the nation experiences “extreme stress,” 77% report stress that affects their physical health, and 73% report stress that affects their mental health. The various physical, emotional, and spiritual ailments caused by stress have been well documented across a plethora of sources. The ability to work through acute stress can mitigate the effects of long-term trauma in the lives of those impacted. The combined strategies of effective psychological first aid and grief counseling can relieve the acute stress response, foster resiliency, promote the healing process, and mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the life of a traumatized individual.
Measurable Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Understand the key differences between crisis intervention and psychotherapy/counseling.
- Have a basic understanding of crisis intervention, ethics, and cultural considerations in this field.
- Understand how developmental stages must be understood to have an accurate understanding of loss, stress, grief, and trauma.
- Understand basic issues regarding aging, disability, severe illness, and those coping with dying.
- Be able to identify those at risk for self-harm, harm to others, or those who are severely impaired and know how to support them and refer as needed.
- Explore the concept of death-related loss (bereavement) as well as non-death related forms of loss such as relationship loss (divorce, etc.) and financial loss (job loss, etc.).
- Have a basic understanding of community disasters and know the differences between man-made disasters, natural disasters, gun violence and forms of support.
- Explore issues specific to military culture and ways to support veterans and their families.
- Understand key dynamics of personal trauma including rape, sexual assault, bullying, and domestic violence. Learn key strategies and crisis techniques.
- Understand how working with trauma can affect crisis care workers and other caregivers.
- Explore how Scripture informs these various topics and how it can be utilized to inform coping strategies and healing.
- Understand how to complete a research series from start to finish.
Textbook readings and lecture presentations
Course Requirements Checklist
After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.
Discussions: Threads and Replies (4)
Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. The student will participate in four (4) Discussions throughout this course. Each consists of two (2) parts: the thread and the replies. For each discussion, the student will submit a thread of at least 450 words discussing the topic given in that Module: Week. The student will then submit replies of at least 250 words each to at least two (2) classmates. Threads must contain at least 2 scholarly sources and at least one scriptural application to support the post. All posts must be written in a substantive manner, without spelling and grammar errors. Current APA or Turabian formatting and style is required. (MLO: A-K)
Research Project Series
The student will conduct a comprehensive research project throughout the course. The student will conduct a field interview with a crisis professional, create a research paper, and synthesize the research in a slideshow presentation.
Research Paper Topic Assignment
The student will choose a specific topic to research throughout the course. The student will research a topic that is relevant to modern crisis counseling, grief, stress, and trauma. The topic will be the basis for his or her interview, research paper, and slideshow presentation. (MLO: A, B, C, K, L).
Field Interviewee Candidate Proposal Assignment
The student will identify a crisis professional to interview for the research project. The student will submit the professional’s name, title, location, qualifications, and years of experience in crisis counseling for his or her proposed interviewee for instructor approval. The proposed candidate must have direct experience in the topic area. (MLO: A, L).
Field Interview Assignment
The student will gain interviewing experience by conducting a semi-structured interview with a professional with direct experience in the area of their approved research topic. Interviews typically last about one (1) hour and should be conducted with someone who is not known by the student. While there is no formal assignment based upon the interview, interview data must be woven into the research paper as an important resource as well as utilized in the slideshow presentation. (MLO: A, B, J, K, L).
Research Paper Assignment
The student will create a 12-15-page Research Paper compiling the research gathered from the field interview, course content, literature review, and major theories of crisis counseling. The student will integrate biblical principles with the research to produce a Christian perspective on the paper. The following key components are required: 1) mental health symptoms and relational dynamics commonly found in the chosen population; 2) best practices in crisis intervention with this specific population; 3) any specific cultural concerns or considerations; and 4) spiritual application/integration. The student will create suggestions for future research based on the research findings in the Conclusion portion of the report. The current edition of APA or Turabian formatting is required. (MLO: A, B, C, J, K, L).
Discussion: Slideshow and Critiques Special Project
Part 1: The student will gain experience in developing a slideshow workshop presentation by creating a 10-12 slide presentation using PowerPoint or a similar software. The student will discuss the key findings of their Field Interview and Research Paper in a slideshow format to share with the class. The presentation must be concise, graphically appealing, include biblical application and academic sources, and demonstrate proper APA or Turabian format in citations/references. This project is the cumulative part of the research series where the student shares their expertise on their selected topic.
Part 2: The student will learn to develop proper professional critiques by responding to at least 1 of his or her classmates’ slideshows in 250+ word formal critique which must include strengths, weaknesses, and ideas for future improvement. The student must include academic material from the course as well as external sources with corresponding citations/references. Both strengths and areas of growth must be included to qualify as a critique. (MLO: A-L).
The student will complete 2 quizzes which are cumulative and cover the material presented in the Reading and Study material. Each exam will be open-book/open-notes. Quiz: Crisis Care, Development, Death, Disability, and Danger will cover Module: Week 1-4 and will contain 25 multiple-choice, true/false questions and have a 45-minute time limit. Quiz: Bereavement, Military/Personal Trauma, and Community Disasters will cover Module: Week 1-8, with an emphasis on Module: Week 5-8, and will contain 50 multiple-choice and true/false questions and have a 100-minute time limit. (MLO: A-K)