Insights: Workplace Trauma Response

Your Assistance Program provides support when traumatic events happen at the workplace.

 

Debriefings are structured group meetings that provide a forum for participants to process thoughts, reactions, and feelings resulting from a traumatic incident. Debriefings are typically scheduled within 24 to 72 hours after an incident.

Debriefing sessions aim to:

  • Provide an opportunity for education, venting, and support
  • Prepare participants about the symptoms they might experience
  • Provide ready access to Assistance Program services for employees in need
  • Screen employees who may be experiencing more severe forms of a post-traumatic stress reaction and refer them to the appropriate resources

Debriefing Best Practices

Debriefings usually last 1 to 2 hours and are best conducted with 3 to 30 participants. All employees affected by the incident should be encouraged to voluntarily attend and participate. The debriefing will be facilitated by the Assistance Program counselor who will provide written information about
post-traumatic stress to each participant.

After the debriefing, the counselor may be available to meet individually with employees. Debriefing rules include an expectation of confidentiality for all participants. Family members of the victim should not be included because their presence can make it more difficult for observers of the incident to talk freely. Separate meetings with family members can also be arranged.

When it is not possible to create a group, it is recommended that the counselor meet individually with affected employees. The counselor will consult with management about ongoing needs. Occasionally, follow-up meetings are useful to provide additional assistance to those who continue to be affected. If symptoms persist, employees and family members are encouraged to seek outside counseling.

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