View Full Version : CISM and other Stress interventions

03-20-2009, 05:02 PM
So, I have recently become the Behavioral Section Sergeant for the AK National Guard Medical Detachment. Unfortunately this means doing SRP packets for other units EVERY month. This being unacceptable for a mission junkie like myself, I have looked for new missions. Since the Med Det is a State military department resource (not just Army Guard) and our Air Guard is heavily involved in some hairy S&R missions, one of my thoughts was to focus on traumatic stress and CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) techniques.

What I do not know, is how effective are CISM and other stress debriefings? Since this site has a large number of soldiers, police officers and contractors that have experienced trauma and likely been through some type of stress or incident debriefing, I would like feedback on how useful the experience has been for you.

So far my S&R buddies have said mostly positive about there CISM experience, my LEO friends have not gotten back to me yet and my Army friends have been mostly negative, though few of them have actually had a true CISM debriefing.

What are your experiences?

Reed Dyer

P.S. I am also interested in anyone's interaction with Army Combat Stress Teams in theatre.

03-20-2009, 05:28 PM
I've always wondered about the follow-ups. The process, in my experience, was a check-the-block waste of time because nobody seemed to care about the purpose behind the procedure.

At the end of my second deployment, a doctor ran down a list of around fifty questions ranging from "were you exposed to exhaust fumes?" to "did you see dead bodies?" I answered yes to every question, as did most Soldiers in my company. One would think this requires some kind of follow up. I did not (and still do not) think that I needed to see a counselor for any mental health issues, but I thought it was odd that the doctor was content to receive an affirmative response to every question that indicated the probability of mental and medical health concerns and not follow it up.

Even when I ETS'd, to the question of "do you have any concerns about your health?" I answered yes and wrote a lengthy list, ranging from exposure to depleted uranium, to drinking filthy water, eating tainted food, being exposed to bodily fluids of foreign nationals who probably have never received a vaccination for anything in their lives, to being around filthy animals, etc, etc. Again - nothing came of it. I even asked the doctor, "you don't think I need to be tested for anything?" Her response was, "like what?"

How should I know? I'm not a doctor.

Old Eagle
03-20-2009, 06:16 PM
My civilian SAR team uses CISM debriefings after stressful missions. I have attended CISM training sessions, but no actual de-briefings. They are voluntary for anyone involved in a particular mission, and closed to any and all outsiders, with the exception of the facilitator(s). There is also no pressure to participate. Any member of the team can request a CISM for any mission, not just the leadership. The professional facilitators are adjunct members of the team, so they're like family. Since no one on the outside will ever learn what is discussed, the sessions appear to be pretty helpful. Team members give them high marks. To my way of thinking our CISM success is a product of all those factors above; mandatory, externally-imposed programs probably wouldn't work.

03-20-2009, 06:24 PM
I appreciate your feedback, and I am concerned that you received zero follow up, however, that process is called a PDHA or a demob briefing. CISM is an in the field intervention, after a unit is exposed to traumatic stimulus such as dead civilians or suicide in the unit, etc. Here is a link for the civilian CISM model. CISM Link (http://www.icisf.org/about/cismprimer.pdf) The Army model, used by it's Combat Stress Prevention Teams is similar. It is this field style MH intervention that I am looking for experience with.
Reed Dyer