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Critical Incident Stress Management

        What is a Critical Incident?

A Critical Incident is any situation that causes strong emotional reactions which have the potential of interfering with an individual's ability to function (at school, at work, in the community, within the family).  Critical incidents may include robbery, assault, suicide, homicide, natural disasters (e.g. a tornado), terrorist attacks, or any other incident that overwhelms people's ability to cope.

        What is Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD)?

CISD is a structured process that provides a confidental group environment in which affected individuals can share their experiences during and after an incident.

The CISM debriefer works to normalize reactions, encourage connection with emotional support systems (at work, in the community, and at home), instruct on appropriate self-care, and assess the need for follow-up services in the days immediately following the event.

        What symptoms might people experience following a critical incident?

People may experience:

  • an inability to concentrate

  • anxiety or panic

  • confusion, difficulty thinking

  • impaired decision making

  • loss of judgment

  • repetitive thoughts and/or images of the event

  • avoidance of reminders of the event

  • irritability, restlessness, agitation

  • over-working, hyperactivity

  • being on the verge of tears and/or crying

  • nausea or gastrointestinal upsets

  • anger, rage or blame   

  • difficulty returning to normal activities

  • difficulty sleeping, nightmares

  • depression and withdrawal

  • survivor guilt

  • aches and pains

  • increased use of alcohol, drugs, and/or caffeine

  • family and relationship problems

  • increased illness

        What is the goal of CISD?

The goal of CISD is to facilitate the quick return of individuals to their pre-incident level of functioning.

        Who can provide Critical Incident Stress Debriefings?

Critical Incident Stress Debriefings are provided by mental health professionals who have been trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM).

        Links for Critical Incident Stress Management Information

For Additional Information Contact:
Linda Bedsole, Psy.D.
Creative Psychology, Ltd.
33305 Opengate Road
Crystal Lake, IL 60012

Tel: 815-444-8468
FAX: 815-479-1709

                                This page was last modified 01/10/2018.


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