Critical Incident Stress Management1
Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is a comprehensive, integrated, systematic, and multi-component crisis intervention programme.
CISM provides an overarching approach that covers all the stages from pre-incident education, through on-scene support to recovery or referral. Fully integrated, CISM ensures smooth and meaningful transitions between interventions and phases of the aftermath of a critical incident.
This systematic, well-designed network of practical processes re-establish skills and confidence, and the multi-component nature of CISM provides range and variety of tools that can be employed individually or in combination to see the optimum outcome for colleagues post-incident.
CISM is designed to meet the emotional demands that can be made from being involved in a critical incident – an event with the power to overwhelm your coping ability.
Peer-support teams running a CISM programme can provide an attractive, cost-efficient and effective way for individuals and groups, both large and small, to address critical incidents from brief domestic emergencies to large-scale disasters.
Elements of CISM
Group Crisis Intervention
The core CISM training workshop recommended by Social Support Systems is ICISF’s Group Crisis Intervention. It teaches four interventions – two small-group interventions to apply in the hours and days that follow a critical incident, and two large-group interventions for protracted and resource-sapping disasters.
Defusing: A 20-45 minutes small-group intervention run by two peers to assess crews on return to base or station from a critical incident. One leads, educates and supports, while the other assesses and assists.
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing: A 1-3 hour small-group intervention for more serious and complicated critical incidents to be run in the days or early weeks that follow. A CISD can be triggered by a Defusing or by an incident that is self-evidently complicated. Despite years of controversy CISD has been granted ‘evidence-based’ status for use in prescribed settings.
Crisis Management Briefing: A large-group intervention for up to 300 people from a community such as at a ‘town-hall’ meeting or large press-briefing. It is delivered by an authority figure from the response organisation to bring reliable information, sound guidance and ongoing-support to those affected.
Demobilisation: A large-group intervention for up to 200 responders to the emergency delivered by peers whilst crews assemble for refreshment and decompression prior to leaving the site. Reliable and updated information, stress management reminders and acknowledgement of efforts made are all provided to mitigate the effects of critical incident stress.
Social Support Systems can provide CISM services on a ‘pop-up’ basis as and when required by your organisations post-incident planning or where appropriate, provide training during the implementation of a peer support program within your organisation.
For further details or if you have any queries, please contact us here
1Listed in 2017 with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) the mental health arm of the US Government’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Critical Incident Stress Management in Focus
Is CISM effective?
Yes, Social Support Systems CIC has successfully used this methodology in a number of post-incident aftermath scenarios, for a number of key blue-light emergency services.
Flawed research in the past wrongly indicated that CISD could potentially cause further harm, but this claim has since been de-bunked, due to the poor nature of the research.
What is the goal of demobilisation?
What is a Crisis management briefing?
What is defusing?
- A 3-phase, 45 minute, structured and small group discussion.
- Conducted within hours of a crisis for purposes of assessment, triage, and acute symptom mitigation.
- May foster a psychological closure after a critical incident
What is CISD and what are its goals?
- A 7-phase structured group discussion
- Usually conducted 1 to 14 days post-crisis
- Designed to provide psychological closure subsequent to a critical incident or traumatic reaction
- To lessen the impact of the critical incident on those who were involved in the event and have suffered an traumatic reaction injury
- To accelerate normal recovery processes for those who are experiencing normal stress reactions to critical incidents
- Identify Individuals within the group who might be in need of further help – A form of psychological triage