Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the physical response to long term exposure or untreated reactions to a traumatic event. It is prevented by attending a debriefing. Symptoms of this disorder vary depending on the types of trauma a person has survived in their lifetime, the severity of the current event, the amount of control removed for the individual at the time of the incident and the quality/quantity of a support system in the person’s personal life. PTSD can be long term or permanent if not treated early with intervention. One of the primary issues underlying PTSD is the feeling that the person has lost control in their personal lives.
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Who should lead a Debriefing?
Make certain by reviewing credentials that the debriefer has been trained and certified under the Mitchell Model. There is a large difference between group on individual counseling and a debriefing. Some persons that appear to be more affected by the event may need one on one counseling sessions with a therapist. A debriefer will facilitate this transfer in care at the conclusion of the debriefing. But at no time should therapy occur during the debriefing.
What about Confidentiality?
It is imperative that the information obtained and shared in the debriefing be held absolutely confidential. These meetings are not part of an investigation and the information shared can not be used against an employee or the employer.
Stages from Traumatic Event to Healing - The SARAH Effect:
1.SHOCK: fight or flight syndrome. Important to get client on a detox program quickly
2.ANGER: time to get real angry. Here we must defuse the individual while listening. This is where un-assisted workers acquire attorneys.
3.RESISTENCE: time out. Here the individual feels overwhelmed and needs to be given space to begin to heal.
4.ACCEPTANCE: normal returns. Now the person sees the end of the tunnel and has hope.
5.HEALING: the person is wiser, back to normal state and can help others.
Can Debriefings harm a person?
There was a study where the results indicated that in some situations debriefings increased the traumatic response in the individual. Some groups, such as the Red Cross discontinued their involvement with debriefings due to this study. However in my experience debriefings have a very specific and beneficial process. It is not the debriefing that harms but rather a novice conducting them that is the danger.
Net Result, It Saves Money…
Higher skilled debriefing staff
Large network of non-workers compensation referrals
Many clients can be assisted by the trauma staff without referrals
Prevents legal interventions
Keeps company in the driver’s seat and warned when liabilities are tested