Critical Incident Stress Debriefing is a process that prevents or limits the development of post-traumatic stress in people exposed to critical incidents. Professionally conducted debriefings help people cope with, and recover from an incident's aftereffects. CISD enables participants to understand that they are not alone in their reactions to a distressing event, and provides them with an opportunity to discuss their thoughts and feelings in a controlled, safe environment.
A "critical incident" is any event that causes an unusually intense stress reaction. The distress people experience after a critical incident limits their ability to cope, impairs their ability to adjust, and negatively impacts the work environment. Traumatic events that produce such reactions include: suicide, workplace fatality or serious illness, suicide, a violent or threatening incident in the work setting, or a natural or manmade disaster that affects the workers’ ability to function in the workplace.