What Are Routine, Urgent, Crisis & Emergency Problems

By: Michael G. Conner, Psy.D, Clinical & Medical Psychologist

E-mail: Conner@OregonCounseling.Org
Resume: www.OregonCounseling.Org/Resume.htm
Phone: 541 388-5660

Revised:  May 21, 2014


Urgent, crisis intervention and emergency services deal with a broad range of psychological and social problems.  Problems can develop abruptly or slowly over time.  People facing a crisis or an emergency, as well as the people who become involved, can experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms as well as changes in their routines and relationships.  Some problems represent an emergency and require an immediate intervention and stabilization.  Most problems are not emergencies.  Most are urgent and require evaluation or attention within 3 days.  A qualified emergency and crisis intervention professional can evaluate a crisis and can advise you regarding the necessary steps to take.

Emergency Problems (usually immediate)

  • Dangerous, threatening, violent, self-harming, destructive or suicidal behavior.
  • Abuse, especially child abuse or abuse of the elderly.
  • Mental and emotional problems that have not been evaluated and may be caused by a medical problem.
  • Strange, bizarre or unusual behaviors and symptoms that have not been evaluated or treated.

  • Conditions in which taking or failing to take medications may be causing or may cause significant physical, mental or emotional harm.

Crisis Problems (usually within 24 hours)

  • Emergency problems that have been evaluated by a qualified professional and based on that evaluation can wait until the next available appointment within a 24 hour time frame.
  • Potentially dangerous, threatening, violent, self-harming, destructive or suicidal behavior which has been evaluated by a qualified professional who feels the problem can wait until the next available appointment within a 24 hour time frame.

  • Abuse and especially domestic violence where there is no immediate risk of violence.

Urgent Problems (usually within 3 days)

  • Symptoms of psychological and social problems that disrupt important activities.
  • Behavior or a pattern of symptoms that may lead to crisis in the near future.
  • Exposure to or involvement in a traumatic event or experience characterized by dangerous circumstances, a loss of life, a serious injury, a life threatening experience or physical assault.

Routine (usually within 1 week)

  • Symptoms of psychological and social problems that disrupt activities.

  • Behavior or a pattern of symptoms that may lead to additional problems, become more difficult to change, or urgent problems in the future (but not immediate future).

  • The person is competent, knowledgeable and familiar with the current problem or issue, and based on that knowledge, is comfortable and willing to wait for a convenient appointment.