John Ensor of
PassionLife has written a book he hopes will serve as a textbook for our
movement. Pregnancy Crisis Intervention: What to Do and Say When It Matters Most, from Hendrickson Publishers, (2019) puts everything in one place for
pregnancy care centers.
“We have new people
coming in all the time, and our manual training tends to be content-heavy when
for beginners, confidence is an equal, if not greater, issue,” Ensor says. “Trainings/conferences
often have the unintended consequence of making people feel more afraid or less
capable rather than the opposite. ‘Experts’ by definition send this message.
Perhaps this is unavoidable.”
He hopes a readable book
of only 122 pages will allow people to “read and think at their own pace, reflect and learn.” He also intends this book
to place the pregnancy help center movement “squarely within the professional
field of crisis intervention counseling, so that eventually it can be taught
within school courses.”
Of course, new staff and volunteers would still need to be oriented to their own center's particular
policies and procedures, but some centers are already using it in their
trainings. Kim H. Bennett (RN, BS, CCE) Program
Director for AlphaCare in Philadelphia, says, “It is now required reading for
all new staff and volunteers in our center.” The same is true for New Life
Solutions in Pinellas Park, Florida, and Robbinsdale Women’s Center in
permission, we’re excerpting a portion from the first chapter that demonstrates confidence-boosting in volunteer training and leaves one wanting to read more.
A pregnancy-related crisis may present itself to you in the
form of a daughter, a sister, a schoolmate, a close friend, or a co-worker. You
are not a licensed professional counselor. But you are the one she turned to
For most readers of this book, that crisis will present
itself as someone seeking services from a pregnancy help organization (PHO).
You have come to your local PHO and are in training to work regularly with women
and couples experiencing pregnancy-related crisis.
Beginners often experience trepidation in entering into the
crisis of others. It isn’t, however, competence you lack. It’s confidence. You
don’t realize that while, of course, you need to learn more and improve your
skills to make you more effective, you already have everything you need right
now to do an adequate job of pregnancy crisis intervention. Counseling is
properly understood to be “a conversation where one party with questions, problems,
and trouble seeks assistance from someone they believe has answers, solutions,
and help.”1 Lots of people, then, are good counselors.
Remember, there is no such thing as a professional mother or
auntie. You can’t get a master’s degree in friendship. You don’t need to be
license as a good neighbor in order to be one. On any given day, around the
world, there are moms, aunties, BFFs and good neighbors who are approached by
someone in a pregnancy crisis and who prove to be good counselors. They have
not read this book, but they will do and say the right things when it matters
Why is that possible? Because they love the person in
crisis, and love is the actual life-saving power in pregnancy crisis
When someone is in crisis, they are in a state of emotional
disequilibrium. They are in inner turmoil. In pregnancy related crises, the
dominant emotion that has metastasized out of control is fear. As the fear
grows, it then paralyzes normative patterns of thinking and decision-making.
Lower the fear and normative processes of coping and problem-solving reemerge. As
already noted, the reason untrained people can figure out what to do and say
when approached by someone in a crisis pregnancy is because they love the
person in crisis. This love guides their words and actions and diminishes fear.
For example, love naturally teaches you to listen. Listening signals empathy.
For the person in crisis, just finding someone who cares enough to listen
relieves fear and stress. To them, you are like the proverbial shelter in the
raging storm although nothing in their circumstances has changed, they begin to
relax emotionally. They share their broken heart with you, and then open their
heart to your counsel.
It’s your love for the woman in crisis that intuitively
guides you to slow things down and make sure she obtains the pregnancy-related
information necessary to make an informed decision. It’s love that prompts you
to ask hard questions, even ones she may not be eager to consider. Love is
gritty that way. As your conversation ends, it’s love that prompts you to say, “I
will help you. We’ll get through this together.”
If you can love, then you can do pregnancy crisis
intervention. Our point is not that love alone is all you need for effective
crisis counseling, but it is all you need to get started. Good training is
still necessary, because people do and say much that is insensitive to those in
crisis, and people in crisis have specific needs. Love alone does not provide
information, but it does provide motivation. Love, then, is the foundation for
effective crisis intervention and a guiding power in applying all that you
study and learn in pregnancy crisis intervention.
Using this as our foundation, we offer three further
starting points for the beginner:
- One rule
- One illustration
- One sentence
These will reduce the complex dynamics and the counseling
approaches explored in this book down to easily remembered, simple, and
recognizable starting points.
Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical
Counseling (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 13.