Reflections on the use of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing in schools

Providing support to schools following a critical incident has become an established part of service delivery for many Educational Psychology Services (EPSs) in the UK. This article offers reflections on the use of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) in schools. A review of the literature on critical incidents, trauma, resilience and bereavement suggested that studies exploring the effectiveness of psychological debriefing in general have produced mixed findings, which may be accounted for by methodological flaws and inappropriate application of the intervention. However it is also argued that the underpinning theoretical assumptions of CISD are questionable and, as a result, that Psychological First Aid, a non-intrusive evidence-informed approach, may be more appropriate in this context.

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