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Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is a specific, 7-phase, small group, supportive crisis intervention process. This effective defusing or debriefing procedure helps normalise the often overwhelming psychological, physiological and emotional responses to minor, moderate and severe critical incidents.
We recognise the impacts of critical incidents on employees’ levels of distress and the impacts it may have on being able to perform their role effectively or attend work. Our staff support training programs are designed to enhance employees’ and/or Wellbeing Champions' natural resilience, and provide specialist training to minimise impacts of critical incident stress and promote wellbeing and recovery.
“Critical incident stress debriefing is a method of mitigating the harmful effects of work-related trauma, and ultimately preventing P.T.S.D. - Jeffrey T. Mitchell Ph.D.
Learn how to proactively defuse an incident on the day it occurs.
To find out more about our staff support training programs in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), get in touch with us today.
Any employee who has experienced suffering and/or a catastrophic event may benefit from CISD interventions, we’ve identified a few:
Learn about the different types of critical incident stress interventions, their purposes, and when to implement them. Become knowledgeable and interactive in your delivery of psycho-educational distraction techniques and alternative coping strategies.
Whether you are defusing or debriefing a group of employees within 24 to 72 hours after the event, understand that this is the first step in their recovery process. Prompt and ongoing treatment is considered crucial, since symptoms and reactions may take time to surface.
Learn to recongise the wide range of short-term emotional changes in your employees, which they may experience as result of a critical incident:
Some of these symptoms immediately follow the critical incident, while others surface over time. If these reactions become chronic, employees may begin to abuse drugs and/or alcohol in an effort to cope with the trauma.
Behavioral changes may include absenteeism and decreased productivity, especially if the employees are not empowered with coping and management skills following the critical incident.
Common psychical reactions:
Dr. Mitchell explained the concept of CISD and its steps in a 1983 study published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, titled "When Disaster Strikes: The Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Process."
The following seven steps make up the stress debriefing process, as outlined by Dr.Mitchell's fellow scholar, Dr. Joseph A. Davis.
1. Assess the Impact of the Critical Incident on Support Personnel and Survivors
The facilitator makes his or her assessment as the participants introduce themselves and share their initial statements, making note of key information, such as individuals' ages and their involvement in the incident. As the discussion continues, the facilitator is better able to make an accurate assessment of each participant.
2. Identify Immediate Issues Surrounding Problems Involving Safety and Security
Through prompts and questioning, the group's facilitator gains a better understanding of individuals' perceived sense of safety and security, which can vanish instantly when sudden tragedy or loss strikes.
3. Use Defusing to Allow for the Ventilation of Thoughts, Emotions, and Experiences Associated with the Event, and Provide Validation of Possible Reactions
Having a safe space to talk about a critical event and its aftermath can be incredibly therapeutic in and of itself, as it helps participants process their emotions and come to terms with their trauma. The facilitator should provide a safe, non-judgmental space for reflecting and processing. During this stage, the facilitator validates each person's unique experience and reactions, assuring participants that their responses to the traumatic event are valid and normal.
4. Predict Future Events and Reactions in the Aftermath of the Incident
Participants are further supported by being made aware of possible reactions that may surface as the days, weeks, and months progress, including emotional reactions, physical symptoms, and psychological changes. This knowledge empowers trauma survivors to plan for the future.
5. Conduct a Systematic Review of the Critical Incident and Its Emotional, Cognitive, and Physical Impact on Survivors, and Look for Maladaptive Behaviors or Responses to the Crisis or Trauma
When observing participants' moods, word choices, perceptions, and thoughts, the facilitator remains alert to any maladaptive behaviors that might inhibit a survivor's ability to recover and cope with physical or psychological reactions. Common maladaptive behaviors include substance abuse, avoidance, withdrawal, and anxiety turning to anger.
6. Bring Closure to the Incident, and Anchor or Ground the Individual to Community Resources to Initiate the Rebuilding Process
As stated previously, CISD is not intended to be the survivor's main source of treatment. Therefore, it's important that group participants are educated on other resources available to them.
7. Debriefing Assists in the Re-Entry Process into the Community or Workplace
After completing the CISD process, survivors may be better equipped to regain their sense of safety, security, and wellbeing, allowing them to return to normal life with greater equanimity and reduced stress.
We strongly recommend after the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, it should be followed by refreshments to facilitate the beginning of follow-up services. The refreshments help to “anchor” the group while team members make contact with each of the participants. One-on-one sessions are often beneficial after the CISD ends.
Critical incident aftercare is guaranteed with other follow-up services including telephone calls, visits to work sites and contacts with family members of the participants, if that is requested.
At times, advice to supervisors may be indicated. Between one and three follow-up contacts is usually sufficient to finalize the intervention. In a few cases, onward referrals for professional care be may necessary.
The mission of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, Inc. is to provide leadership, education, training, consultation, and support services in comprehensive crisis intervention and disaster behavioral health services to the emergency response professions, other organizations, and communities worldwide.