Often referred to as psychological first aid, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is a type of crisis intervention designed to provide support for those who have experienced traumatic events or critical incidents. Critical incidents are defined as events that threaten physical or emotional safety or events that result in physical or psychological harm. CISM involves a highly structured process for helping those involved in critical incidents to share their experiences, vent emotions, and learn about stress reactions and symptoms. It comprises of multiple crisis response components that attempt to address each phase of a crisis situation.
First developed for use with military combat veterans and then first responders such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency workers and disaster rescuers, it has now been adapted and used virtually everywhere there is a need to address traumatic impact in peoples lives. This system of crisis intervention is meant to prevent psychological damage associated with traumatic events. CISM is intended to support those who are prone to trauma exposure as well as those who have experienced an intensely traumatic event (i.e. risk of death in the line of duty, hostage situations, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, etc.)
The objective of CISM is to: