Critical Incident Debrief

Critical Incident Debrief

The Critical Incident Debrief (CID) is recommended following traumatic events to provide protected time for emotional processing.

The Critical Incident Debrief is a systematic approach to processing difficult events and traumatic experiences. It is designed to address the emotional and psychological impact of an event in which there may have been serious injury or a near miss causing significant distress. Continuum adopts a seven stage process based upon the Mitchell Model (Mitchell and Everly, 1996) in approaching the emotional repercussions of a crisis situation; our methodical approach provides a carefully structured framework for exploring the facts to create a clear and cohesive picture following exposure to a traumatic event. 

At Continuum we believe that employers should be swift to respond to the psychological consequences of work-based trauma to ensure the continued wellbeing and effective performance of their staff. Our experienced facilitators are poised to react quickly and professionally where such a need should arise in keeping with the proposed time frame for critical incident aftercare following a traumatic incident. 






Facilitators explain the purpose and expected outcomes of the Critical Incident Debrief. The first stage will set the tone for the session encouraging effective participation and underlining the importance of respecting confidentiality.



The second stage is concerned with gathering factual information. This process is central to building a cohesive picture of the incident from the position of each individual involved.



The transition from cognitive to affective domains is accommodated during the third stage. Participants are invited to impart their thoughts at the time of the event as a prelude to exploring emotional repercussions.



At the heart of the Critical Incident Debrief is an opportunity to review the psychological impact of the event upon the group. Participants are encouraged to reflect upon their emotional responses and to articulate these if they so wish.



Participants are asked to describe their cognitive, behavioural, physical and emotional reactions as may have emerged since the incident. This information will serve as a guide to the following stage.



According to the symptoms identified the facilitators will provide relevant psychoeducation. This will include an explanation of presenting symptoms and management strategies for any related stress factors.



This stage will focus on questions and final statements. Facilitators will summarise the Critical Incident Debrief, validate the experience of participants and offer further guidance for addressing any ongoing symptoms.


The Critical Incident Debrief will usually end with an opportunity for participants and facilitators to discuss the debrief in a less formal and unstructured manner. Individual sessions are offered should participants request them.