What is critical incident stress debriefing?
In today’s world, employees increasingly experience stress in the workplace in the form of unexpected events, witnessing a traumatic event, coping with the death of a co-worker or friend, responding to a tragedy, or responding to an enraged customer. Many negative experiences are totally unexpected and can leave an employee or many employees feeling drained, shocked, upset, angry, or even traumatized. If left without the ability to process the event fully and understand what happened, why it was so upsetting and what they can do to heal from the event, an employee or employees can begin to exhibit signs of stress including inability to focus on work, feeling drained of energy, feeling irritable or withdrawn, and perhaps even feeling profound sadness.
Critical incident stress debriefing services are available to assist employers and employees gain work through the traumatic incident by processing through the event, acknowledging the difficulty of the situation and the impact it had on the employees, and how to gain access to support after the event. The debriefing is generally provided to a group of employees where the facilitator acknowledges the difficult event, encourages discussion about the event, and then allows employees have an open forum to discuss their experience with the event by commenting on their thoughts, reactions and feelings both during the event and afterwards. The act of coming together as a group to share thoughts and feelings about the event can decrease stress, anxiety and the fear surrounding the event. Debriefing is not therapy, but more of a tool to begin the processing of events in a safe manner and allowing the opportunity to promote healing from the after effects of the event. Debriefing can typically take one to two hours and the facilitator is available to stay for an hour or two after the group debriefing, if necessary to provide individual debriefing to employees who may still need to process the event a bit more on a one-on-one basis.
When should a debriefing session be held?
Typically, debriefings take place 24-72 hours after an event, when the shock and emotions from the event may be highest. Employees may be noticing changes to their moods, thoughts, emotions and even daily patterns. An employee may experience loss of sleep or nightmares about the event, hyperarousal or the need to remain highly vigilant at all times due to fear of another event occurring, which can detract from their ability to focus on their work tasks. There may also be mood swings, heightened anxiety, depression, bouts of crying or increased irritability, and even feelings of anger. Depending on the event the occurred, some employees may feel guilt that they perceive there is something more they could have or should have done to stop the event and debriefing is a healthy way to express, process and address those emotions. Debriefing can also be beneficial to foster the sense of surviving a shared experience, which can develop bonds between employees where they will feel comfortable in sharing their feelings and supporting one another during the process of recovery from the event. I am also available to provide follow up debriefings if necessary.
Who should utilize debriefing services?
Debriefing sessions can be useful for any employees who as a regular part of their job, experience situations that would involve heightened emotions, life and death situations, dangerous work environments, etc. First responders such as EMTs and paramedics, fire fighters, law enforcement officers, doctors, nurses, emergency room staff, caretakers, hospice personnel, and many other professions are great examples of careers that may experience an occasional need for debriefing.
What is the cost for debriefing services?
Generally, a group debriefing session may last about 2 hours. Time can be longer if the group opens up and is more talkative about the event. The cost for a 2 hour session is $200 with any hour after that being $75. I am available to stay after the group debriefing to provide one-on-one sessions with employees, as well. Please contact me for additional information about booking a session.