" I have google set as my homepage, and as soon as I type anything in the search box the 'internet explorer has stopped working' message comes up...."
It does sound like a problem add-on is causing those issues. As a test, use the diagnostic Internet Explorer (No Add-ons) browser for a while and see whether you get the same problem. If you don't know how to launch it then click your Start button and immediately start typing the program's name. After typing a just few letters it will appear at the top of the list.
If you find that all your problems don't appear when using the No Add-ons IE then it must be an add-on problem. You've got a couple of options to fix this:
Close IE, go to Control Panel -> Internet Options -> "Programs" tab -> "Manage Add-ons" button. Disable all the ones you don't recognise or any that look suspicious. If in doubt you can Google for the add-on's name. Make sure you don't disable any of your security add-ons. It's probably fine to leave all the ones in the "Microsoft Corporation" section enabled.
Or, back in Internet Options, click the "Reset" button at the bottom of the "Advanced" tab. That'll do a very thorough job of resetting IE back to its original state. You won't lose any favourites but all add-ons will be disabled so you'll need to re-enable the important ones like (Adobe Flash) manually and of course any security add-ons.
Best of luck.