Critical Incident Interventions: Crisis Response and Debriefing

Critical Incident Interventions: Crisis Response and Debriefing

Emily Brucia (Palo Alto University, USA), Matthew J. Cordova (Palo Alto University, USA) and Josef I. Ruzek (National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, USA & Palo Alto University, USA & Stanford University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0813-7.ch006
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

Police officers are exposed to many critical incidents throughout their careers. This chapter discusses critical incident exposure and psychological sequelae in police officers, police culture, obstacles to mental health care, currently utilized early interventions, existing research for these approaches, alternative evidence-based early interventions, emerging models, and directions for future research. Given the frequency and potential impact of critical incidents, early intervention for exposed police officers is of central importance. One of the most commonly utilized group early interventions, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), has limited empirical support, such that some departments are being advised against its use. That said, there are important challenges in identifying better, evidence-based alternatives.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Police officers are exposed to many critical incidents throughout their careers (Carlier et al., 2000; Malcolm et al., 2005). A critical incident may be defined as, “A potentially traumatic event which may cause a given individual’s emotional resources to become over-taxed, resulting in a spectrum of reactions from exhaustion to increased and unrelenting mental health symptomology” (Maguen et al., 2009, p. 754). Critical incident exposure is one of the reasons some have considered policing to be the world’s most psychologically dangerous job (Marin, 2012).

Given the frequency and potential impact of critical incidents, early intervention for exposed officers is of central importance. In practice, one of the most common formal interventions following a critical incident is an individual meeting with a mental health professional that has an in-depth understanding of the law enforcement culture (typically an in-house or contracted police psychologist). The goal of such meetings is to provide support and education, rather than to treat or prevent traumatic stress reactions (E. Dorian, personal communication, March 16, 2016). However, there is not yet a universally adopted approach or methodology for such contacts and there is no research evidence regarding their effects.

One of the most commonly utilized group early interventions, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), has limited empirical support; evidence suggests it may not be helpful and may even be harmful to participants (Mitchell, 1983; Tuckey, 2007). Some organizations are being advised against its general use (Tuckey, 2007) and researchers have recommended that mandated group psychological debriefings should cease (Bisson, McFarlane, Rose, Ruzek, & Watson, 2009). However, there are important challenges to identifying a better, evidence-based alternative.

This chapter will discuss critical incident exposure and psychological sequelae in police officers, police culture and obstacles to mental health care, early interventions in current use, existing research on these approaches, alternative evidence-based early interventions, emerging models, and directions for future research.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset