How to Help a Loved One in Crisis

My baby was only about three weeks old when his older brother got sick. Call it motherly instinct, but I knew almost immediately that we would likely end up in the hospital with the little one after he caught whatever his brother had. Sure enough, about 5 days later, we were in the hospital with the baby because he was having trouble breathing. Those first few hours in the hospital with our newborn were some of the scariest that I can remember as a parent. I hated seeing him suffering, I didn’t know if he was going to be okay and there wasn’t a lot, I could do to help him. We had a friend that worked at the hospital, and I remember her stopping by several times a day offering me reassurance and advice on what to expect with his treatment and stay in the hospital. To this day, I was so thankful Theresa was there to help us through the crisis.

Lately, I’ve had many people reach out to me because either they or a loved one is in crisis. These phone calls are happening much more often than they used to, and I think it’s a direct result of the Pandemic. Regardless of the reason, many people do not know what to do when they are in a crisis or they’re trying to care for a loved one who is in a crisis. I decided to dedicate this week’s blog to help you be prepared just in case this happens to you. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list, nor is intended to take the place of the advice of a therapist. Please use it as a guide to get the right fit for your needs.

What to do when someone you love…

Is Suicidal 

If someone is suicidal, take them to the ER. If they refuse to go, call 911. The number one priority is to keep you or your loved one safe. I have found that many people do not know this is an option. If they deny they are suicidal and you are still concerned about their safety, you can still go to the ER, they will assess and decide to keep you or your loved one safe. In the Indianapolis area, we have a few hospitals, like Valle Visa ( who will do a free assessment and give recommendation on the best course of treatment. Also in Indiana, they resource available here. The national suicide hotline is available here. You can also do an Internet search by state or concern and there should be several options available. I’ve heard many people say that they are not sure how to determine if their loved one talking about suicide is attention seeking, or dramatic. My response is, to always error on the side of SAFETY. Take them to get an assessment or to the ER and allow the professionals to make the determination. 

Needs outpatient treatment

Sometimes when people are going through a crisis, they need a higher level of care. When this is the case, most local hospitals will offer outpatient treatment. Usually these treatment programs are called, IOP or Intensive Outpatient treatment. This means that it’s a more intensive treatment protocol than the outpatient treatment that you would get with a regular therapist in their office. Typically outpatient treatment is 14 days, the groups meet for 2-3 hours at a time, 5 days a week, normally not on weekends. This is a more intensive treatment option than seeing a therapist weekly. 

Needs inpatient treatment

When someone continues to struggle and just do not seem to be doing better, inpatient treatment may be recommended. While inpatient treatment times vary, most people are hospitalized for 5-14 days, depending on the severity of their symptoms. Most inpatient treatments will include medication management and group therapy several times throughout the day. 

Needs a therapist

Finding a therapist with availability right now is difficult, which is an understatement. Many of us are booked several weeks to months out and it’s even more difficult to find someone who takes your insurance. With that in mind, it’s important to consider a few things:

  1. It might be worth waiting for the right therapist. While I think it’s important to find a therapist with good training and some experience, research shows that the rapport (harmonious and sympathetic connection) between the therapist and client is the best predictor of the you, the client feeling better. 

  2. Do some research ahead of time to find a good counselor for your needs. While I love to help people, I’m not the right therapist for everyone who needs a counselor. I have specialties and training in specific areas, and those are not a good fit for everyone who needs a counselor. It will feel better for you, right from the beginning if you take a few minutes to read a few counselors’ bios on their websites and have a few in mind that you think might be a good fit. 

  3. Using insurance is ideal but…many therapists in private practice don’t take insurance. There are several reasons that many therapists in private practice choose not to take insurance and the main reason is that it is very time consuming. Many therapists handle all their own intakes, scheduling and billing. When this is the case, many of them simply don’t have the time to follow up on insurance benefits and payouts. Most therapists do take HSAs and FSAs and it is very easy to get reimbursed by your insurance company. While I don’t want to get into the specifics of how this works, suffice it to say that many people get reimbursed about 80% of the cost of therapy when they go to a therapist who is out of network. For many people, that works about to about a $20-$30 out of pocket cost per session. 

  4. Speaking of insurance, it’s a good idea to call your insurance company before starting counseling, so that you have an idea of what you will pay out of pocket and get a general idea of what your insurance plan covers regarding therapy. Oftentimes, clients can get through to their insurance companies and get answers quicker than when the therapist calls to check on benefits. 

I hope this helps you get a better idea of what to expect if you or your loved one needs some type of mental health treatment. I’ve had to tell a lot of people lately that I’m not taking new clients and it’s been so difficult to turn people away. My hope is that everyone will get the help that they need while also staying safe! 

I hope this explanation of how to help a loved one better. If you need more help understanding the HSP trait, please feel free to contact me at 317.496.0456 or email I’d be happy to hear what is happening and help you find the right fit for counseling. If you are looking for help with depression, anxiety, trauma or behavioral concerns, you can read more about how I can help at my website peacefamilycounseling

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