Psychological Debriefing: Pros and Cons

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Psychological Debriefing: Pros and Cons
Psychological debriefing (PD), is an intervention process in which trauma survivors are urged to recount and relive the incident in order to avoid long-term consequences and traumatic stress responses (Halgin, 2009, p. 59). The method used in this process is Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) and more recently, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). However, there are those who oppose the use of psychological debriefing, stating that it can be more harmful than helpful to individuals who have faced a traumatic event.

Proponents for psychological debriefing believe that, “…psychological debriefing will help mitigate poor long-term functioning, which otherwise may occur, or even worse is "likely" to occur, and is a "foreseeable" consequence of the event” (p. 66). However, the opposition found evidence that a small percentage of individuals, who experienced traumatic events, were found to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a year following their traumatic incident. Further, the opposition argues that PD directs the process of intervention to help prevent PTSD but disregards other psychological issues, such as depression, resulting from trauma. They argue that while instances of PTSD are low among trauma survivors, the prevalence of depression is high. One noted study reported that 71% of rape victims develop depression whereas only 37.5% developed chronic PTSD lasting 1-3 years (p. 66).

Proponents for psychological debriefing believe that those opposed to PD misrepresent the terminology and understanding of the purpose of PD. They state that PD is a method of screening to determine if individuals who have experienced a traumatic incident are in need of psychological treatment (p. 78). Further, the opposition makes the claim that Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) is the same as a comprehensive, systematic and multi-component program called Critical Incident...
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