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Critical Incident Stress Debriefing
DRChristensen inc. - Renee Christensen, Ph.D., CEAP, SAP, CISM

What is Critical Incident Stress Management?
The "classic" CISM model was developed by Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell of the University of Maryland for use with emergency services personnel and promulgated by the American Critical Incident Stress Foundation, which was founded in 1989 (the name was changed to the "International Critical Incident Stress Foundation" in 1991 to reflect the expansion of the model beyond US boundaries). Initially developed for firefighters, paramedics and police officers, the use of the Mitchell Model has been expanded for use in natural disasters, school-based incidents, and a variety of other settings, including, in recent years, the U.S. military and survivors of terrorist acts.

What is a Critical Incident?
A Critical Incident is defined here as a workplace event which is extraordinary in nature with the expectation of producing significant reactions on the part of victims or those either directly or indirectly impacted. Who can be affected? Witnesses, employees, colleagues, clients and/or family members all can be affected and can create risk. 

Typical examples include:
Robberies
Auto Accidents
Client Illness (heart attack in lobby)
Severe or Prolonged Illness of Employee (Cancer, AIDS, etc)
Sudden Death of Employee
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The information on this Web site is presented for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider.

All information contained on these pages is in the public domain unless explicit notice is given to the contrary, and may be copied and distributed without restriction.
Why offer a Debriefing?
The purpose of the debriefing is to take the active memories of the event and store them into long term memory.  After a traumatic event our minds work to bring “closure” to the incident.  Until closure is reached our minds continue to run a memory track of the event in hopes of making the incident make sense and be logical.  We continue to “turn over” the situation and review it until our minds feel satisfied that it “now makes sense.”  A major consequence of a traumatic event is that the person feels that order and control in their life has been lost.  The brain keeps turning over the sequence of events to regain order and control. In a debriefing a trained person helps the individuals understand the event, their lack of ability to control situations and then to store the incident into long term memory.  Not all situations or persons need a debriefing, but for those persons who continue to not sleep, have anger issues emerge, or continue have difficulty in focusing attention a debriefing may prevent Post Traumatic Stress.

Objectives

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