Co-responders: A career in crisis work


PITTSFIELD — Richard Collins has worked with the Brien Center's Crisis Team for two decades.

Before that, he worked as an emergency room technician in Fort Wayne, Ind. That "wild job" prepared him for the kind of intensity he sees now.

"This is nothing compared to that," he said.

After working in the ER for about 10 years, Collins moved to New England to study at Antioch University, where he earned his master's degree in clinical psychology in 1996.

Now, the Brien Center social worker is embedded within the Pittsfield Police Department and is building similar partnerships with police departments throughout Berkshire County.

Collins admits that his presence at police calls makes some people unhappy. He shows up in people's homes as the "crap hits the fan," as he puts it. But his approach is to remain respectful and subservient.

"I'm here to aid you," he said. "It's about doing this together."

It all comes down to relationships. "That's the magic to the work," he said.

"It's a privilege to be invited into another person's world."



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