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Post-Incident Stress Debriefing (PISD) - coming 01/02/2021

Are you looking for a skilled facilitator to help debrief staff after an incident? Post-incident stress debriefing is a process for dealing with the impact of traumatic events. It is intended to help those involved in a potentially stress-inducing incident share their experiences and learn about stress reactions and symptoms.  More here.

Post-Incident Stress Debriefing (PISD)

Are you looking for a skilled facilitator to help debrief staff after an incident? Post-incident stress debriefing is a process for dealing with the impact of traumatic events. It is intended to help those involved in a potentially stress-inducing incident share their experiences and learn about stress reactions and symptoms.

PISD aims to mitigate the impact of an incident and assist the people involved with recovery from the event’s stress. The process can take several hours.

From 1st February 2021, First in the Queue is pleased to offer Post Incident Stress Debrief Facilitation including psychological first aid.

Our accredited professional facilitators are available to assist you when you or your organisation needs it. Contact us here.

More information about Post-Incident Stress Debriefing (PISD)

Following trauma exposure, an individual may experience both physical and psychological responses. PISD is a practice that allows those involved to both process and reflect on the traumatic events they have experienced.

Ideally, stress debriefing should occur shortly after the traumatic event to increase the method’s effectiveness. It is recommended that debriefing occurs within the first 24 to 72 hours to provide individuals involved with the greatest support. Prompt action is also considered crucial since reactions may take time to surface. However, there are still significant benefits in taking action even if the event happened a long time ago.

What type of incident might be considered for PISD?

Anyone who has experienced trauma or a catastrophic event may benefit from PISD. Author and researcher, Joseph A. Davis, PhD, identifies the following events and situations as “critical incidents,” all of which may be helped with this type of stress debriefing:

  • sudden death
  • incidents involving children
  • severe injury
  • a threat to an individual’s physical and/or psychological safety and wellbeing
  • a distressing situation or event that profoundly changes or disrupts an individual’s physical or psychological functioning

Those who experience any of the incidents mentioned above may be at risk of long-term and short-term distressing emotions and reactions.

Recognising and accepting the need for help following a traumatic event can lead to healing and restored hope. PISD delivered by trained professionals helps individuals process traumatic experiences in one-on-one or group settings.

PISD provides a bridge from the traumatic event to hope, healing, and recovery by giving individuals a voice that will be heard, offering closure, and allowing them to live with a restored sense of security and overall wellbeing.

Symptoms And Reactions That May Require Post-Incident Stress Debrief

Common emotional responses include:

  • shock
  • denial
  • anger
  • rage
  • anxiety
  • change in mood
  • sadness
  • sorrow
  • grief
  • depression
  • confusion
  • blame
  • shame
  • humiliation
  • guilt
  • frustration
  • fear
  • terror
  • hypervigilance
  • paranoia
  • phobia
  • suicidal thoughts

Common physical responses include:

  • restlessness
  • fatigue
  • sleep disturbances
  • eating disturbances
  • muscle tremors
  • nightmares
  • flashbacks
  • profuse sweating
  • heart palpitations
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea

Some of these responses may immediately follow the critical incident, while others surface over time. If these reactions become chronic, individuals may begin to use drugs and/or alcohol to cope with the trauma.

Absenteeism and decreased productivity are common if individuals are not provided with coping and management skills following the critical incident.

When Is Post-Incident Stress Debriefing Helpful?

PISD was developed to provide a safe, open, and non-judgmental space for each participant to share their initial reactions and emotions following a critical incident. Early interventions can reduce trauma impact, help individuals recover and identify those participants who require additional support.

Rescue and emergency workers, police officers, firefighters, and military personnel, can also benefit from this debriefing. While it is essential to provide relief to those directly involved in the initial incident, service providers who may also experience trauma are often forgotten.

As mentioned earlier, it is recommended that these debriefing sessions occur within 24 to 72 hours of the traumatic event. Groups may meet over several days, but for no more than two hours per session each day. This allows survivors to process their experience without becoming overwhelmed.

During these group sessions, the facilitator helps participants understand their emotional reactions, validates their responses, and provides stress management tools and resources for continued support. Although similar to a therapy session, PISD is not intended to replace individual or group therapy.