The role of psychological debriefing in the treatment of victims of trauma
The application of psychological debriefing has become an expected and widespread intervention following exposure to trauma. This article assesses the wisdom of such an approach and reports upon expert consensus regarding its use. Meta-analytic and narrative reviews are summarised and areas of agreement and disagreement are outlined. In sum, it was concluded that the majority of people do not become traumatised from stressful events; that generic psychological debriefing, when applied to individuals, appears to have little impact on functioning; that a specific form of debriefing called Critical Incident Stress Debriefing holds the possibility of noxious effects for some participants and that those most deleteriously affected by debriefing appear to be those most distressed by the initial trauma; that there is no randomised controlled trial evidence to support the validity of group debriefing approaches; and that early intervention using Cognitive Behavioural techniques for those with clinically significant presentations appears the most promising approach. A generic set of guidelines for intervention following trauma is provided.