When … not if… your group members experience crises


"Inevitably, members of your small group will face hardship and suffering." In her Church Leaders article, Candace McMahan continues, “They may face financial difficulties, divorce, depression, addiction, unemployment, or even an event as devastating as a terminal illness or the death of a spouse or child. They may struggle to deal with broken fellowship within the small group, a church scandal, a rebellious child, or even thoughts of suicide. Are you and your small group prepared to help your members through such difficulties? All too often, we fail to reach out to those in pain because we simply don’t know what to do or say, and we’re afraid of actually making things worse.


McMahon's quote reflects "why" Module 8 Crisis Theory is an essential component of the ADOH peer facilitator training experience

Learning objective: Participants will be able to describe a)different types of crises, b)the connection between crisis and trauma, and c)give an overview of steps leading to a successful resolution of crises.


Key Module 8 points

  • Everyone experiences crises – from relatively minor “life events” to major “unwanted, unexpected” life-altering ones.

  • Crises are time limited.

  • Regardless of the event severity, there’s an initial ‘upset in equilibrium.’

  • How individuals resolve a crisis depends on various factors

The event’s severity,

What was learned from previous crises,

Strategies used to work through previous crises and,

The support of others.

  • If using customary methods of resolving problems fails, the ‘upset’ accelerates.

  • Successful resolution often requires new strategies, behaviors.

By the time a partner begins attending group, she will undoubtedly have already experienced both “life event” and “unexpected, unwanted” crises. Listening to partners describe their experiences with both types, as well as how they responded during and after the crisis, can help inform and guide a peer facilitator’s decisions and actions during group sessions. Peer facilitators and the group experience can help provide a positive impact on two of the factors, which can help group members make healthier choices, leading to positive crisis resolution.


ADOH alumni perspectives

"There are two basic types of crises. The first is a life event crisis that is usually related to expected life situations and stages that occur as you grow older and mature. This type of crisis can often be prepared for. The second type of crisis is one that is unexpected, sudden, and generally unwanted. The unexpected nature of this crisis makes it difficult to be prepared for.


The goal of crisis resolution is to enable the partner to understand what they are experiencing and to regain/access problem-solving skill that will enable them to move forward. As peer-facilitators, we assist that process by providing empathy, clarification, validation, perception, support, and helping the partner to understand and use coping mechanisms and strategies".

Cindy Bajema, ADOH CPF, APSATS CPC-Candidate


"Traumatic events are the more extreme version of stressful events, with the main difference being trauma overwhelms our ability to cope. Many partners, especially in the early stages, experience trauma blocking in the effort to numb, block out or reduce residual feelings to trauma.


Using the steps of crisis resolution can help a partner identify and move through a crisis. Expressing empathy, asking for clarification, validation of partners feelings, clarifying the partner’s perception of the event, exploring situational support, and making sure the partner has and recognizes adequate coping mechanisms can all help the partner move through the crisis. Initiating this conversation can help partners continue down their healing path. Once a group has achieved the group dynamic of trust and safety, crisis resolution during group time could benefit the group as a whole, ‘the group can serve as a collective and affirming intervention.’ Showing empathy and vulnerability with each other can empower partners to make healthier choices and build strong connection between other group members."

Rebecca, ADOH CPF, APSATS CPC-Candidate


Next ADOH Partner Peer Facilitator Training

ADOH training is designed for partners who

· Are at least one-year post discovery or disclosure

· Received help working with a therapist or counselor, coach, or mentor, and

· Participated in a support group


If interested in joining the January 2021 training

Complete the “Peer Facilitator Interest Survey” located on the ADOH Peer Facilitator page drop down. After receiving your completed survey, you will be contacted to schedule an interview.

If you choose to proceed AFTER the interview, you will complete an application. Once approved, you will be notified when registration is open, and complete your registration with a $200 payment.


The registration process for the January training groups must be completed by January 12, 2021