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STLCC Staff Members Complete CISM Certification

March 17, 2008

As the instances of school shootings, natural disasters and other crises escalate, the need for effective response capabilities -- particularly for the long term -- gains greater importance.

To that end, a group of 24 staff members from St. Louis Community College recently completed a certification program in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). CISM is a comprehensive, integrative, multicomponent crisis intervention system. CISM interventions range from the pre-crisis phase through the acute phase and into the post-crisis phase. Interventions may be applied to individuals, small and large groups, families, organizations and entire communities.

"These individuals can be divided into teams of no less than two members to conduct critical incident stress debriefing in the aftermath of a small- or large-scale crisis event in the SLTCC district or local community," said Joe Worth, Ph.D, associate professor in counseling at STLCC’s Florissant Valley campus.

The CISM team, Worth said, is a post-event intervention and works as an arm of a larger Incident Command System.  CISM components include:

  • Pre-crisis preparation, which includes stress management education, stress resistance, and crisis mitigation training for individuals and organizations.
  • Support programs including demobilizations, informational briefings, town meetings and staff advisement.
  • Small-group discussion within hours of a crisis to assess, triage and mitigate acute symptoms.
  • Critical incident stress debriefing designed to mitigate acute symptoms, assess the need for follow-up and provide a sense of post-crisis psychological closure.
  • One-on-one crisis intervention/counseling or psychological support.
  • Family crisis intervention and organizational consultation.
  • Follow-up and referral mechanisms for assessment and treatment, if necessary.

"There are standard and individualistic reactions to every trauma and stressor," Worth said. "The goal is to get the affected individual functioning again occupationally, socially and interpersonally. We believe this training will prove invaluable to the campus and community if a crisis situation arises."