Counseling for Mental Health Professionals, Working With Essay

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For mental health professionals, working with patients can be challenging. This is because they will have issues that could be directly associated with their condition. In the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, it is discussing these problems. To fully understand how this relates to crisis theory and intervention requires comparing different scenes from the film that are relevant. This will be accomplished by focusing on: the precipitating event, identifying the type of crisis, examining the material / personal / social resources available, studying the different perspectives, looking at how it was handled by the protagonist, suggesting coping skills, discussing referral sources that are available and biblical perspectives. Together, these elements will provide specific insights as to the way it is illustrating crisis theory and intervention challenges.

Identify precipitating events

The main event is when Randal Patrick McMurphy is sent to a mental hospital from the state prison. He is at a work farm serving a sentence for the statutory rape of 15-year-old girl. Many people believe that he is not sick and is trying to avoid doing hard labor. While others think that he is a violent sociopath with passive aggressive traits. (Wright, 2011) (Douglas & Forman, 1975)

This creates a situation where he will engage in actions to demonstrate that something is wrong with him. In a number of instances, this results in some kind of deviant behavior. As time goes by, his outbursts become more violent and focused on the staff inside the facility. This is when he begins to direct his anger at Nurse Ratched. She is in charge of the ward and
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is often seen as someone who is influencing his attitudes. The movie ends after McMurphy is given a frontal lobotomy from an attempted escape attempt and trying to kill Nurse Ratched. (Wright, 2011) (Douglas & Forman, 1975)

Identify the type of crisis (Situational, Developmental, Existential)

The crisis is based upon situational and developmental factors. The way that it is situational, is many of the incidents occur after McMurphy sees an opportunity to engage in deviant behavior. It is also developmental because McMurphy never fully learned how to work with authority figures and always questioned the rules placed upon him. This causes him to lash out at those who are enforcing them and what they represent. (Wright, 2011) (Douglas & Forman, 1975)

Identify the material, personal, and social resources available to the individual

The material resources were largely the medication and prescription drugs that were provided. From a personal and social perspective, these sources were limited to group therapy sessions as well as working with a clinical psychiatrist (i.e. Dr. John Spivey). (Wright, 2011) (Douglas & Forman, 1975)

What were the differing perceptions of the crisis? (the client, family, community, friends, legal perspectives)

The clients felt that they were not receiving the best treatment and are often forced into confinement because of their mental conditions. The families believed that something was wrong with them and they need help. This meant that they discounted what they were told. The community took an attitude of indifference about these events. Friends were helping the patients selectively (i.e. McMurphy). (Wright, 2011) (Douglas & Forman, 1975)

At the same time, they ignored the problems and forgot about those who…

Sources Used in Documents:


Holly Bible New International Version. (1985). Oak Ridge, TN: Gideon's International.

How Do I Find a Local Support Group. (2012). NMHA. Retrieved from:

Douglas, M. (Producer), & Forman, M. (Director). (1975). One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. USA: United Artists.

Wright, N. (2011). The Complete Guide to Crisis and Trauma Counseling. Ventura, CA: Regal.

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