Karen Williams

My approach to counselling . . .

  • Short-term or longer
  • Focused on the presenting issues and the client’s goals
  • Crisis and trauma counselling
  • Relational and holistic
  • Person-centred
  • Transpersonal and integrative
  • Objective and non-judgmental
  • Trauma informed
  • Major influences include: Crisis theory, trauma theory, Babette Rothschild, C.R. Rogers, C.G. Jung, transpersonal psychology, psychodynamics, the evidence base from research and clinical practice

Counselling for Stress and Personal Crisis

What often makes people think of seeking counselling is that they are experiencing a crisis in their lives. This means that their usual way of managing things, or of coping with difficult emotions, events or circumstances, isn’t working for them. They may be struggling to cope, or feel that they and/or their life are out of control and that they are no longer able to handle things.

Common symptoms in this kind of stress-related or emotional crisis include anxiety, depression, emotional overwhelm or outbursts, social withdrawal, physical aches and pains, and disturbances to sleep, appetite, digestion, memory and general cognitive functioning. Life’s normal routine is disrupted and dysfunctional coping mechanisms, such as dissociation, alcohol use or other uncharacteristic behaviours, may come to the fore. For some people there may also be thoughts of self-harm or even suicide.

Crises may be precipitated by a traumatic event such as an accident, or physical or sexual assault. In the immediate aftermath of trauma, you may feel emotionally raw, confused or angry, or perhaps numbing is keeping you from feeling anything very much at all. Other life events can also be experienced as crises, such as relationship breakup, a medical diagnosis, loss of one’s job or home, or the loss of a loved one. Crises can also develop just through the accumulation of stress over time and a diminution of one’s normal ability to cope, but there will be an event of some kind that triggers the crisis reaction. People who are already sensitive due to pre-existing circumstances may be especially vulnerable to experiencing events and negative emotions as crises.

Whatever your situation,  finding a way to stabilise, feel safe and in control again is vital
so you can begin to deal with what is happening in your life.



This is when professional help can make all the difference, both in supporting you and in working with you to find a way through the difficulties. Counselling for crisis or trauma is generally short-term and aims to help you regain your adaptive coping capacity and find or develop the resources you need to move forward. It is person-centred, compassionate and non-judgmental. It can include a variety of ways to help you understand and manage the symptoms and feelings you are experiencing whilst encouraging personal growth to meet the challenges you may be facing. It is goal-directed and works with you to build resources, foster resilience, and help you find the best solution to move forward with in your life. If appropriate, psychotherapy and trauma treatment are available, and referrals can be made to outside agencies which can provide you with additional specialist support.

A Note on Crisis Intervention Counselling

Counselling work for personal crisis and psychological trauma is informed by evidence-based crisis intervention theory and trauma theory. It is important not to confuse early intervention counselling for crisis and trauma with psychotherapeutic treatment models, as the two are not the same and serve different purposes. In crisis work I refer in particular to the Stress-Crisis Continuum Model of Yeager, Burgess and Roberts (2015), the Roberts Seven-Stage Crisis Intervention Model (Yeager & Roberts, 2015), Greenstone and Leviton’s (2011) crisis model, and the SAFER-R model of Everly and Mitchell (2008). Whilst acknowledging the task-centred nature of these models, I work with clients in a person-centred way. Psychotherapeutic treatment, EMDR therapy, and referral to outside agencies are also available for clients when appropriate.

Mental Health Crisis

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis (e.g. thoughts of serious self-harm or suicide, disturbed behaviour, psychosis) and you need urgent assistance, please make contact with one or more of the following agencies, who will be able to help you.

Contact a trusted friend or family member.

Samaritans:  Freephone 116 123. Call them any time. You don’t have to be suicidal to use their service.

SANEline:  A specialist mental health helpline. Dial 0300 304 7000 between 4.30 pm and 10.30 pm each evening.

Papyrus:  Freephone 0800 068 4141. Supports teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

If you think you may self-harm or act on suicidal feelings, or have already done so, go to any hospital A&E department. If necessary, dial 999 for an ambulance.

NHS 111 Service:  For non-urgent medical help, dial freephone 111 (24 hour helpline).

See your GP. Emergency appointments may be available. If out of hours, there is usually an answerphone message telling you where you can get help.

If you already have contact with mental health services, phone your Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) or your crisis team if you have one. If you have a care plan or crisis plan, check it for who to call in a crisis.

National Domestic Violence Helpline:  Also links to Refuge and Women’s Aid. Freephone 0808 2000 247 (24 hour helpline).

Rape Crisis:  To find your local services dial freephone 0808 802 9999 (daily, 12-2.30 pm, 7-9.30 pm).

Alcoholics Anonymous:  National helpline is freephone 0800 9177 650.

Narcotics Anonymous:  National helpline is 0300 999 1212 (10 am – midnight, 7 days a week).

Mind:  A national UK charity with comprehensive information about being prepared for and dealing with mental health crises, including how to get urgent help. For their Infoline, dial 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 (9 am – 6 pm, Mon to Fri, except bank holidays).

“… for an individual, crisis is the perception or experiencing
of an event or situation as an intolerable difficulty that exceeds
the person’s current resources and coping mechanisms.”
(James & Gilliland, 2017, p. 9)


Crisis counselling focuses on the current status of the person in crisis
and aims to restore adaptive coping. It is a short-term intervention which offers
support, resources and stabilisation, with options for further assistance and treatment.

Make an Enquiry

If you would like more information about psychological therapy and how we may be able to work together to address your concerns,
you are warmly invited to call, email, or message me through the form on the Contact page.

07801 273768 / info@karenjwilliams.co.uk


Everly, G. S., & Mitchell, J. T.  (2008).  Integrative crisis intervention and disaster mental health.  Ellicott City, MD: Chevron.

Flannery, R. B., & Everly, G. S.  (2000).  Crisis intervention: A review.  International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 2(2), 119-125.

Greenstone, J. L., & and Leviton, S. C.  (2011).  Elements of crisis intervention (3rd ed.).  Belmont, CA: Brooks-Cole, Cengage Learning.

Hobfoll, S. E., Watson, P., Bell, C. C., Bryant, R. A., Brymer, M. J., Friedman, M. J, … Ursano, R. J.  (2007).  Five essential elements of immediate and mid-term mass trauma intervention: Empirical evidence.  Psychiatry, 70(4), 283-315.

James, R. K., & Gilliland, B. E.  (2017).  Crisis intervention strategies (8th ed.).  Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Yeager, K. R., Burgess, A. W., & Roberts, A. R.  (2015).  Crisis intervention for persons diagnosed with clinical disorders based on the stress-crisis continuum.  In K. R. Yeager, & A. R. Roberts (Eds.), Crisis intervention handbook: Assessment, treatment, and research (4th ed., pp. 128-150).  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Yeager, K. R., & Roberts, A. R.  (2015).  Bridging the past and present to the future of crisis intervention and crisis management.  In K. R. Yeager, & A. R. Roberts (Eds.), Crisis intervention handbook: Assessment, treatment, and research (4th ed., pp. 3-35).  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.