As someone who wants to advance faith-based global trauma recovery efforts, I am always on the prowl for effective interventions that could be sustainably used by local caregivers. However, it is always important to ask whether a popular or up-and-coming intervention has been fully vetted. Sadly, “does it work?” and “does it work here?” are often not fully answered before an intervention is promoted as the next best thing.
One of the most popular forms of immediate trauma intervention is called “Critical Incident Stress Debriefing,” a one time group intervention designed to forestall long-term trauma due to stressors. When you think of CISD, think of interventions with police or fire fighters or military after a traumatic experience.
But, does it work? This post here provides a helpful summary of the critique, even though it was published 2 years ago. As I read this I remembered an American Psychologist article on the same topic–but for the life of me I can’t find it. My recollection of this fantasy article is that these interventions seem to be helpful for about 50% of those who participate but that at this point it is not possible to tell which 50% will find it helpful. And further, a portion of the other 50% are actually harmed by it.