Crisis Theory And Resilience Theory

Social workers often confront crises that are brought to them—a crisis experienced by a client, a family, a community, or an organization. The goal of crisis theory is to intervene to help restore equilibrium and to reduce long-term psychological and social distress. Given the nature of social workers meeting clients at the point of crisis, interventions are short-term with very concrete outcomes.

In times of adversity or crisis, clients, families, communities, or organizations frequently forget that they have strengths, both intrapsychic assets and environmental resources, to assist them through the crisis. Resiliency can be viewed as a trait, a process, or the outcome of intervention, which may help a client adapt to a crisis, trauma, or adverse event. Resiliency theory emphasizes the environmental, psychological, social, and individual factors that minimize the risk that stems from problems that arise.

This week, you examine two theories that can be used to complement each other—crisis theory and resilience theory.

Crisis Theory And Resilience Theory Learning Objectives Students Will:

  • Apply crisis theory and resilience theory to social work practice
  • Critique instruments to measure outcomes when evaluating effectiveness of interventions
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of crisis theory and resiliency theory as they apply to social work practice

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.



Discussion: Instruments Measuring Resilience

Social workers strive to make informed decisions about the interventions they implement. These decisions should be driven by what the research data say. As a result, social workers have been called to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions they implement. A common way to evaluate interventions is to use a single-subject design.

This involves monitoring an outcome for an intervention implemented for one client. After a social worker works with the client to determine the outcome to be measured, the following steps to the evaluation might look like this:

In this Discussion, you use the lens of resiliency theory when reflecting on a case from your fieldwork, and then you consider how to measure the effectiveness of a possible intervention.

To prepare, read this article listed in the Learning Resources:

  • Smith-Osborne, A., & Whitehill Bolton K. (2013). Assessing resilience: A review of measures across the life course. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 10(2), 111–126. doi:10.1080/15433714.2011.597305

By Day 3

  • Reflect on your fieldwork experience, and identify a case where it would have been beneficial to employ resiliency theory. Describe the case in 2 sentences.
  • Describe the presenting problem in one concise sentence.
  • Describe an intervention you would implement to promote resiliency.
  • Identify an instrument from the Smith-Osborne and Whitehill Bolton’s article that would be appropriate when employing a single-subject design to evaluate how effective the intervention is in increasing the client’s level of resiliency.
  • Explain why you selected the instrument.
  • In other words, why would the instrument be appropriate? (Consider the age of the client and for whom the instrument was designed, how feasible it would be to administer the instrument such as cost, time to administer it, etc.).

By Day 5

Respond to two colleagues:

  • Discuss how you would use the data collected by your colleague to guide the next step in the planned change process or to inform future work with clients.

Application Of Crisis Theory And Resilience Theory To A Case Study

It is common for social workers to be presented with a crisis situation brought forth by clients, families, communities, and/or organizations. The ultimate goal is to restore the client to equilibrium. The five stages of the crisis are (1) the hazardous event, (2) the vulnerable stage, (3) the precipitating factor, (4) the state of active crisis, and (5) the reintegration or crisis resolution phase.

There are times when a social worker will use more than one theory to assist in conceptualizing the problem and intervention, particularly if the theories complement each other. For example, resiliency theory can be used alongside crisis theory.

To prepare: Review and focus on the same case study that you chose in Week 2.