As you learned last week, crises that share the “individual, couple, and family” classification nevertheless can differ dramatically in terms of their breadth and the intervention strategies most often used to address them. The same is true of systemic crises. “Systemic crises” comprise the second broad category into which certain types of crisis situations can be classified.
The unifying factor between the types of situations in this category is implied by its title—systemiccrises affect large systems. This might be a school, a workplace, a particular community, or an entire city, state, country, or region. When a systemic crisis occurs, not just one person or family is affected. Dozens, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of individuals, couples, and families might feel the impact. The breadth of impact of a systemic crisis, then, is broader than in an individual, couple, and/or family crisis situation, yet can still vary somewhat between different types within the category as a whole. A public health disaster, such as a worldwide flu outbreak, for instance, would have a larger and more complex breadth of impact than would a natural disaster, such as a tornado, that affects a single community.
Systemic crisis interventions require a combination of strategies to be effective. Such crises have the potential to affect every aspect of life, meaning response efforts must include everything from the immediate provision of basic needs such as potable water, food, shelter, medication, and the physical safety of those affected, to intensive counseling for victims suffering from psychological distress, to long-term plans for rebuilding or ongoing recovery. As a result, intervention strategies for all systemic crises must be multifaceted, multipronged, and developed cooperatively between and among multiple organizations and/or agencies. At the same time, the specific strategies implemented may vary across situations. Every crisis is unique and thus requires a customized response depending on the needs of those affected.
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