Routine debriefing of employees following traumatic incidents may not be
effective and may even be counter-productive, a study has found.
The research presented at the British Psychological Society’s Occupational
Psychology conference last month by researchers from The Institute of
Employment Studies and Birkbeck College, London, found that a review of the
studies carried out so far into debriefing showed no differences in the
incidence of subsequent traumatic symptoms between those who received
counselling and those who did not.
The authors of the study suggest however, that even if debriefing doesn’t
work it may still meet some needs: the needs of the survivors to understand
what happened and the needs of those not directly involved to master
vicariously the traumatic encounter, overcome their sense of helplessness and
survivor guilt and make restitution.
They conclude that organisations need to set down very clear and realistic
aims for any intervention they propose to use and to constantly monitor or
evaluate the outcomes against the stated objectives.