Crisis Intervention: A Handbook of Immediate Person-to-Person Help is the sixth edition of a text first published 33 years ago, in 1982. The sole author, Kenneth France, PhD, is a professor of Psychology at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, and has over 35 years of experience in teaching crisis intervention to undergraduate and graduate behavioral science students and crisis hotline workers. He is the recipient of numerous teaching awards at Shippensburg and has published other books in this field.
The text is nine chapters in length, with 243 pages of content. The total length is 319 pages, which includes references and name/subject indexes. As proclaimed by the author, it is intended for counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses, physicians, clergy, correctional officers, parole and probation officers, and lay volunteers. The book is intended to provide a practical framework for those providing front-line assistance to individuals experiencing a life crisis. It does not endorse a particular theoretical orientation and attempts to stay neutral in an attempt to appeal to a broad readership. An addition to this latest edition includes a section on a recovery model for patients with serious and persistent mental disorders and patients with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The nine chapters can be functionally divided into three sections (although not expressly articulated by the author). The opening two chapters present the core concepts of all crisis interventions according to the author, the middle three chapters present unique populations (suicide, crime victims, groups), and the concluding four chapters discuss service delivery issues, community relations, and screening, training, and burnout prevention.
Overall, the handbook is easy to read and uses case vignettes liberally throughout the text. There are 37 pages of reference, but most are dated. A very small percentage were newer than 2011, reflecting that this is a sixth edition.
The format is educationally sound. It is easy to see why the author has won numerous teaching awards in his career. I recommend this book for individuals starting a career in crisis intervention (or working in a crisis hotline), but cannot recommend it to medical students, psychiatric residents, or psychiatrists. It is very difficult to write a clinical handbook for such a wide range of readers with different educational backgrounds. The sophistication of many of the cases, and case discussions, are appropriate for entry-level providers with limited mental health training, but not readers with a more advanced didactic fund of knowledge. An example is a case presented of a hoarder who was “cured” with single intervention by her pastor. The author does not address the complexity of this disorder and its treatment. To its credit, it provides a nice initial foundation and core structure for those choosing to engage in this very important clinical area. The author’s decades of experience and expertise are evident in this highly practical beginner handbook.
David Baron, MSEd, DO, FACN
Professor and Senior Vice Chair
Department of Psychiatry
Keck University Hospital
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
The author declares no conflict of interest.