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September 11th and the Crisis Response for the Federal Courts

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 66 Issue: 1 Dated: June 2002 Pages: 11-15
Mark J. Maggio Ph.D.
Date Published
June 2002
5 pages
This article describes how the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) model, a crisis intervention model, was used with the Federal courts in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
CISM is a comprehensive, multi-component crisis intervention model. It is a psycho-educational model whose interventions range from the pre-crisis phase through the acute crisis phase and into the post-crisis phase. CISM uses strategies such as one-on-one interventions, critical incident stress defusings, debriefings, and demobilizations. When CISM interventions are promptly delivered by trained personnel, the need to seek formal therapy later may be alleviated. Since this article focuses on the use of CISM provided to court staff following the September 11th attacks, the discussion pertains to the "group" crisis interventions of CISM. Viewed by many as the "capstone" of the CISM interventions, the critical incident stress debriefing is a seven-stage crisis intervention group process designed for the prevention or mitigation of posttraumatic stress. Critical incident stress debriefings are group meetings whose purpose is to discuss a traumatic event or a series of traumatic events. The debriefing is designed to mitigate the impact of the event, prevent the subsequent development of posttraumatic stress disorder, serve as a mechanism for early identification of those in need of mental health follow-up, and prepare those in need of follow-up for the next level of care. This article includes a section that describes how such debriefings were used by the CISM team that responded to the Federal probation office in the southern district of New York following September 11th. The article concludes with guidelines for managers and staff to consider when planning for and developing comprehensive crisis response procedures. 11-item bibliography