Colorado Counseling and Consulting Services
Colorado Counseling & Consulting Services
2790 N. Academy Blvd.,
Suite # 312
Colorado Springs, CO 80917
Phone: (719) 444-0250
Fax: (719) 444-0253

Critical Incident Stress Management Debriefing and Defusing

What is Crisis?
Anything that threatens our life or well-being is a traumatic event for us. A crisis is a response to an event wherein our life feels disrupted, our usual coping mechanisms fail, and we feel distress and significant impairment.

Crisis Intervention is:
Psychological first-aid that seeks to reduce symptoms, re-establish functional capacity, and identify individuals who need futher assistance and care.

Critical Incident Stress Management

Based on the work of Dr. Jeffery Mitchell, the CISM Model is known as the premier crisis response-training program in the country. Thousands of counselors, teachers, pastors, police officers, emergency technicians, and healthcare workers use this skills-based training everyday in their work. CISM reduces impact of trauma by providing early intervention and allowing for early affective expression and verbalizing of crisis experience. It provides a behavioral structure and allows for psychological progression to develop so victims may move through the crisis with minimal impact. CISM demonstrates caring and instills hope and a sense of control while providing an opportunity for follow up and assessment if needed.

Critical Incident Stress Defusing

Designed to get victims through the first 24 hours, defusing is a shortened version of debriefing. It is used preferably within the first 8 hours of an incident but certainly within the first 24 hours. It is usually conducted away from the scene. Who should attend defusing? Victims who were at the core circles of impact. Generally, defusings take about 1 hour and should include no more than six to eight people.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing

Debriefings are not therapy. They are structured small groups that are organized to discuss the traumatic event. They generally include 8 to 12 people and take 1 to 2 hours. They are held 24 to 72 hours after the incident and are often hosted b the affected corporation. They are led by mental health professionals and peer counselors. Debriefings are important because the potential risk for post traumatic stress disorder following a traumatic incident is 13% for women and 6% for men. Debriefing minimizes this risk! One of the most important aspects of debriefings are for the facilitors to identify who is in trouble so that follow-up assistance can be offered to help these individuals work through the trauma.



Tom Kurtz is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. He is a charter member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and is ICISF certified, a primary training requirement in crisis management for business and industry.

Bev Johnson is licensed as a professional counselor in practice. She is also a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and is ICISF certified. She has extensive specialized training and experience in grief and bereavement counseling.