What is Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)?
Critical Incident Stress Management, or CISM, is an intervention protocol developed specifically for dealing with traumatic events. It is a formal, highly structured and professionally recognised process for helping those involved in a critical incident to share their experiences, vent emotions, learn about stress reactions and symptoms and given referral for further help if required. It is not psychotherapy. It is a confidential, voluntary and educative process, sometimes called 'psychological first aid'.
First developed for use with military combat veterans and then civilian first responders (police, fire, ambulance, emergency workers and disaster rescuers), it has now been adapted and used virtually everywhere there is a need to address traumatic impact in peoples lives.
There are several types of CISM interventions that can be used, depending on the situation. Variations of these interventions can be used for groups, individuals, families and in the workplace
The core components of CISM are:
- Pre-crisis preparation. This includes stress management education, stress resistance, and crisis mitigation training for both individuals and organisations.
- Disaster or large-scale incident, as well as, school and community support programs including demobilisations, informational briefings, "town meetings" and staff advisement
- Defusing. This is a 3-phase, structured small group discussion provided within hours of a crisis for purposes of assessment, triaging, and acute symptom mitigation.
- Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) refers to the "Mitchell model" (Mitchell and Everly, 1996) 7-phase, structured group discussion, usually provided 1 to 10 days post crisis, and designed to mitigate acute symptoms, assess the need for follow-up, and if possible provide a sense of post-crisis psychological closure.
- One-on-one crisis intervention/counseling or psychological support throughout the full range of the crisis spectrum.
- Family crisisintervention, as well as, organisational consultation.
- Follow-up and referral mechanisms for assessment and treatment, if necessary
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