A graduate program for human services crisis management will teach students the skills necessary to treat patients who have been exposed to severe trauma or emotional duress. Most graduate degrees in this field are in psychology or counseling psychology; crisis intervention and management is offered as a concentration within the larger degree program. Students who complete these programs are prepared to offer immediate and long-term coping strategies and therapeutic healing to patients in the community. In most states, earning a master’s degree in counseling with a crisis intervention concentration qualifies its graduates for state licensure and independent practice.
Why a Master’s Degree?
Society today presents a greater need for crisis management professionals in fields like security, public safety, and emergency management. A master’s in human services crisis management is usually completed within three years. Using fundamental concepts that were explored at the bachelor’s degree level, master’s candidates explore the acute and long-term impact of trauma to the human psyche. Delving more deeply into theoretical principles and scientific data related to helping patients in crisis situations, students are encouraged to master both theory and its application in a clinical environment.
Socio-political forces, ethno-cultural influences and family dynamics all play a part in how an individual responds to crisis. Course work in these areas as well as in disaster response and its psychological implications provides master’s degree candidates with a wide knowledge base about a specific sub-field of counseling. Since this graduate study falls within the realm of counseling psychology, these programs also meet the certification requirements of the National Board of Certified Counselors.
Inside a Crisis Human Services Master’s Degree Program
In a human services crisis graduate program, particular emphasis is given to assessment and treatment planning. Collecting information from multiple sources and using data to inform treatment models is stressed, as is the proper communication of assessment recommendations. Individual client personality traits and the social, economic, and cultural environment where the trauma took place are also studied and used to develop treatment strategy that best benefits individual clients.
Courses that are typically found in core concentrations within a master’s in human service crisis degree program include:
- Causes and Effects of Traumatic Stress
- Trauma in Children and Adolescents
- Intervention Strategy
- Conflict and Resolution
- The Psychology of Terrorism
- Disaster Crises
- Interviewing Strategy
- Psychology and Culture
As with most master’s degree programs, research, and fieldwork are key components of graduate-level crisis human services curricula. Degree candidates can expect significant course work in research theory, effective study design, and various research methodologies. Quantitative reasoning and data analysis are illustrated, and students learn to apply resultant data to clinical practice. A student practicum and an internship also serve to help candidates apply this knowledge in practice and gain experience in the field. Internships may be in inpatient or outpatient hospital settings, community mental health centers, or social services agencies.
What's Next for Crisis Human Services Master's Degree Holders?
The individual experience in crisis counseling is usually quite brief; most patients are seen for a matter of weeks. However, so many things in life can trigger a traumatic response that there is a need for trained professionals who can handle this short-term but extremely important patient need. Some typical titles for graduates of a master’s degree program include community support coordinator, case manager, psychosocial rehabilitation advisor, clinical team leader, direct care counselor or crisis intervention coordinator.
Graduates who are interested in conducting original research, or those who would like to expand their marketability into a larger sector of human services may enroll in a Ph.D. program. This advanced degree in human services application qualifies its graduates to teach or move into multidisciplinary areas of work like emergency management or public safety.