11 thoughts on “The harmful effects of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD): Why police departments should stay up to date on evidence-based practices”

  1. Renee,

    Excellent article. I wanted to let you know that I am sharing this with the Chief in my former department. We are in NJ where CISD/CISM is still a staple of post-critical incident response.
    Frank Plunkett

  2. Frank,

    Thanks for sharing. I think most agencies across the U.S. still use CISD. I wrote the article because it is a glaring example of how we don’t keep up with the research. My hope is police chiefs will see the value in keeping up on current research for the benefit of both our employees and communities.


  3. It sounds like many departments began CISM/CISD so they could “do something.” If you’re not doing CISM/CISD, what are you doing for officers involved in traumatic incidents?

  4. Jason,

    This is from the article “Dr. Feuer broke the idea down into simpler components for his Critical Incident Peer Support (CIPS) program – Listen, Protect, and Connect.” Ultimately human beings are resilient. They will recover form most incidents naturally. All someone needs after a critical incident is someone who will listen, conveying compass, assess their needs, and ensure that basic physical needs are met. Don’t force them to talk. Provide or mobilize company from family or significant others, encourage but not force, social support. Give them information about what they might experience after the event. Protect them from additional harm. Let them vent their feelings as appropriate for the individual, and when appropriate, refer to mental health specialist. What I have seen repeatedly mentioned across the majority of studies is that if a person shows increased signs of PTSD, then refer to a mental health specialist. Intervening before a person shows signs of PTSD is ineffective and, in some cases, damaging.

    Treat each person as an individual and give them what they need after a critical incident. Ask them what they need and listen. Follow up in two weeks and if they are still experiencing symptoms of PTSD then refer to a mental health professional who specializes in PTSD.

    This is my take on what the literature talks about.


  5. I’m a newbie to this group, author of the forthcoming proprietary white paper (PD commanders, city managers, mayors only) that is rapidly turning into a book … “How Not to Hire a Walking Lawsuit.” The root issue here is that the creators do not want to admit they were wrong. Mitchell and Everly are stonewalling based on internal ego defenses, (conscious and subconscious,) to wit: avoidance of perceived shame for being “wrong,” loss of professional prestige and empire-building turf defense. This situation is not unlike police officers, generally detectives and DAs who, in order to avoid admitting they were wrong in their investigation that led to charges and conviction of innocent people, will vigorously proclaim that they “got the right guy” and oppose release from custody even when DNA evidence clearly shows they did NOT get the right guy and in some cases withheld exculpatory evidence in order to keep their cases (and egos) intact. Needless to say, that is a nasty black eye on American policing and criminal justice.

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