Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is an early intervention approach to support employees who have witnessed or been subjected to a traumatic incident at work. It is one of the core components of Critical Incident Stress Management. CISD helps employees express feelings and concerns related to stressful incidents. Motor vehicle accidents, machine injuries, electrical shocks, violence (burglary, assault, rape), amputations, thermal or chemical burns, witnessed fatality and weather-related incidents all have a significant impact on an individual’s physical and mental health. The primary objectives of CISD is to provide emotional support to mitigate the long-term impact of the critical incident, accelerate the recovery process, restore morale, keep employees at work and facilitate the identification of individuals who might be in need of additional services.
The CISD technique can be used in an individual, one-on-one setting and/or a group meeting with the affected employee(s). This approach allows for emotional ventilation, education on stress management and stress reactions, and reassurance that the stress response is controllable and recovery is possible. CISD also informs employees of forewarning signs and symptoms that may arise in the future, including information on the prevention or mitigation of PTSD.
Research on CISD effectiveness shows that individuals who are provided CISD within a 24-72 hour period after the initial critical incident experience less short-term and long-term psychological trauma. At CorVel, we have case managers certified in CISD to provide the additional support needed to help employees following a traumatic incident. For employers, this reduces the number of stress claims, amount of lost time, and duration of permanent disability among affected employees.
With the notable impact the pandemic has had on frontline and essential workers, many are now experiencing Post COVID-19 Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PCTSS). To mitigate both the short-term and long-term effects of this stress, CorVel is offering PCTSS debriefing to affected employees, whether or not they’ve had the virus themselves. PCTSS debriefing is a form of CISD that helps employees reintegrate into the workplace feeling encouraged and enthusiastic about returning to work following the stress and trauma they have experienced.
By providing an immediate, appropriate response to critical stress – whether it be following a traumatic incident or from the effects of COVID-19 – CISD helps employees feel cared for by their employer and provides the support needed for a successful recovery and return to the workplace.