Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) are specially trained police officers that can quickly respond to potentially life threatening situations involving those who are experiencing serious mental health problems. These teams can be called in by community organizations, churches, schools, families or anyone else who has a concern for the welfare of someone they deem vulnerable. CIT teams have members who have all undergone extensive training and screening so that the members can be called in as needed. It does not matter what type of crisis the members are called to solve.
A crisis intervention team is usually comprised of members from a range of disciplines, from doctors to psychologists, nurses to social workers. One of the most effective types of CITs involves crisis intervention teams, which are made up of members who have experience in dealing with mental health emergencies and/or stress syndrome cases. The members of this type of team can include people with psychiatric expertise, mental health professionals, psychologists and members from various other disciplines, such as law enforcement, EMS and fire departments. Members of this type of crisis team may have experience in crisis resolution; however, they will also have experience in psychological support. A team will likely have a variety of different types of mental health professionals on hand to provide support to the crisis intervention team members and families.
One specialty area of the psychological support provided by crisis intervention teams is that of law enforcement officers. Law enforcement officers may come from different agencies and come from different areas of the law. When a law enforcement officer is called to a scene where another person has been involved in a mental health crisis or mental illness crisis, he/she may be asked to act as a crisis intervention team member. Some members of law enforcement may go beyond their training to provide additional support to the crisis intervention team.
The members of crisis intervention teams who come from a different area of the law may have specialized training in a particular mental health field. For example, members of crisis intervention teams may have extensive experience in forensic psychology. They may also have specialized training in law enforcement, corrections, mental health and social service. In some cases, crisis intervention teams will bring in members from disciplines other than law enforcement.
Crisis intervention teams may use diverse strategies to provide psychological support. Crisis counselors are typically employed by crisis intervention teams. Crisis counselors can provide direct supportive and therapeutic feedback to the crisis intervention team members and families. Crisis counselors will assess the needs of the person involved in the crisis and will develop an individualized plan for meeting the specific needs of the patient. Crisis counselors also may refer their clients to appropriate clinical and mental health providers. Counselors can also work in schools to provide educational support to students who may be at risk for developing a mental health problem.
Police officers may also make up part of crisis intervention teams. In some cases, police officers have extensive specialized training in working with people in crisis. In other instances, the officers will be called upon to assess the situation on their own. In both cases, the officers will likely be asked to take some specialized training in order to train them in how to deal with mental health and legal issues.
The role of the psychological support team may vary according to the type of crisis they are responding to. When dealing with people suffering from drug or alcohol abuse, crisis negotiators will likely provide additional psychological support as well as legal assistance. Crisis rescuers, also called medical response specialists, are often called upon to evaluate the situation and provide first aid and securing shelter for the patient. Examples of crisis rescuers are nurses, physicians and other trained emergency response specialists. Sometimes, fire department members or other professionals who have experience dealing with crisis situations may be called in as crisis rescuers, in order to give psychological support to the patient and family during and after the crisis has ended.
Crisis intervention teams may consist of a small number of highly trained, highly educated volunteers who know how to deal with the psychological issues facing an individual. They can be made up of family members, friends, business owners, clergy members, or psychologists. Many organizations prefer to recruit crisis intervention teams that have previously worked together, so that they can provide similar psychological support and counseling services to the patients. Other organizations prefer to recruit volunteers who have specific experience in dealing with traumatic events, such as first responders, fire fighters and medical professionals.