There has been a considerable number or criticism against Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) from the research community and from practitioners. In the so called “Debriefing Discussion” criticism has ranged from stating the ineffectiveness of CISD to speculating that application of the method may be injurious for participants.
This chapter will not go into the details of the discussion. Mitchell and Everly (1) summarized the studies and meta-studies which came to results pro and con, respectively. It appears that all of the studies suffered from methodological shortcomings, and therefore cannot be taken as support of either position[R1] .
In order to reach the intended target of crisis intervention by means of CISM several aspects have to be considered (1):
CISM methods provide effective crisis intervention which is able to reduce signs and symptoms of distress in individuals who have experienced a potentially traumatizing event.
- CISM is a multifaceted system of method.
- No method of CISM shall be applied as a standalone intervention.
- CISM methods have to be performed following the manual.
- People who implement CISM must be properly trained and must have sufficient experience in crisis intervention.
- The group for CISD has to be homogeneous, i.e. all members have the same background and have had the same experiences during the event. This will minimize the risk of secondary traumatization of participants while listening to narrations of observations they did not have.
- It is advantageous that individuals have been informed during pre-incident preparation about the help which they can use.
Anecdotal reports from large organizations, such as police and rescue services in some states of Germany, indicate that some modifications of CISM are viewed practical, e.g. emphasizing the cognitive domain in the CISD, as Pieper (16) recommends, and examining, whether CISD may be replaced by other intervention methods.