Types of crises
Type Descriptor
Situational or
Situational crises originate from three factors: material or environmental such as a fire or a natural disaster; personal or physical such as a heart attack, the diagnosis of a fatal illness, or bodily disfigurement; and interpersonal or social, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or the loss of a job. These events are unplanned and unexpected.
Traditional (or
This type of crisis involves two major areas: developmental transitional states or situational transitional states.
  • Developmental states are composed of normal and expected life cycle changes based on predicted human development. Significant changes accompany these stages.

  • Situational transitional states include significant life events like marriage, the birth of a child, retirement or first-time employment. Though anticipated, the changes necessary for the transition create anxiety and tension.
Cultural and social (or adventitious)
These crises involve such events as robbery, rape, incest, marital infidelity, physical abuse, and hostage situations. This form of crisis is unpredictable and not under the individual’s control.
SOURCE: Kneisl, C., & Riley, E. (1996). “Crisis intervention.” In Wilson, H., & Kneisl, C. Psychiatric Nursing (5th ed., pp. 711-731). Menlo Park, Calif.: Addison & Wesley.