Workplace Trauma and Critical Incident Response: Crisis Care Network
Much is going on in today’s workplace that involves trauma. We met with Crisis Care Network at a Behavioral Health conference and knew they were a perfect organization to showcase to our listening audience. A licensed, compassionate, and responsive team to work with the mental health of employees who’ve just experienced a critical incident is crucial not only for staff but also the business entity. Join us in welcoming Dennis Potter, Director of Trainings and Consultant Relations, to discuss how Crisis Care Network’s counselors offer guidance and immediate care after a traumatic event.
a. Crisis Care Network is a for profit corporation that operates as part of the R3 Continuum. Our customers are most often an Employee Assistance Center that provides general services to their client companies, but utilize us after the company is hit by a critical incident. Our primary mission is to provide Critical Incident Response services to an organization and its employees.
2. How often and where does CCN serve the workplace?
a. We provide responses about 1,100 times a month all over the US and Canada. As can be expected, most of our responses take place in urban areas. Thus, California, Texas, Florida, New York and the Washington, DC area use us the most. But we also handle states with small populations and very rural areas of all 50 states and Canada. We have also handled events for American companies who have personnel in foreign countries.
3. What is a Critical Incident?
a. A Critical Incident is any event that has the power to disrupt an individual or groups ability to cope for a temporarily. We used to think about these events as crises or traumatic events, but they are really any event that is disruptive to the work place. The most frequent reason we are called upon to provide services are the unexpected death of an employee. Most often these deaths occur off site, they are usually the result of a health issue or accident. Sometimes they occur on-site due to a health event, accidents or violence. The second type of disruptive we often respond to is a robbery, and lastly corporate resizing.
4. When a disruptive event has occurred in the workplace, what is the impact on the employee and on the organization?
a. By their very nature, a disruptive event causes some level of chaos, both of emotions (shock and denial), thoughts (can’t believe that this happened!) and behavior. The disruptive event triggers our basic, human survival stress reactions of Freeze, Flight, and Fight as described by Han Selye back in the 1950s. People are struggling with trying to understand the event, why it happened, and put it into some type of understandable sequences. Anger, Guilt and Grief are the primary, universal reactions after a disruptive event.
People are second guessing themselves and sometimes leadership. They can project Anger on the perpetrator, on management, on others, or on themselves. They can feel guilty that they somehow failed to prevent it, or they left unfinished business after a death. They may be grieving the loss of a colleague to death, or more of an intangible loss of sense of personal safety.
5. What intervention models do you use?
a. The underlying principle of each intervention that we use is our ACT model, Acknowledge, Communicate, and Transition. The Acknowledge starts with accurately talking about the event, using clear language about death, suicide, the person’s name and the facts of the situation as we understand it. We describe common reactions that people have to such an event and essentially set the stage for the next step, Communicate. In this phase, we seek to discuss how the employee might be doing, what reactions they may be having with a view to validating their concerns as an expected reaction to an unusual event. In the Transition phase, we ask if they have been involved
in any similar type of situation and what was helpful for them to get through it. We can also build on their successes by sharing information on what other employees who have been through a similar situation found helpful.
We encourage three intervention types using these principles. The first is an Educational Group Briefing. The consultant and a member of the leadership team get in front of employees to explain the facts of the situation that happened, then the consultant explains common reactions, things to do to take care of yourself, to take care of each other, and potentially to take care of other employees that might be more intensely impacted. The second group approach is the Interactive Group Briefing. This group model is for employees most directly involved in the event either because they witnessed it, or were close with the impacted employee. This features more discussion
between the employees as facilitated by the consultant. Lastly, the consultant is available for individual interventions with employees to discuss their reactions and to establish ideas for moving past the event.
6. What are the results of the interventions?
a. Crisis Intervention has been found to be very helpful to people affected by traumatic events. Some of the research that has been done on crisis intervention in the workplace seems to demonstrate that employees use less sick leave, lower rate of turnover, and greater sense of loyalty to their company.
7. What are the skills an interventionist on your panel needs? How do you support improving those skills?
a. While crisis intervention is not therapy, we believe it is important for a consultant to have some excellent clinical skills including building rapport, understanding the common reactions of people after disruptive events, the ability to teach appropriate stress
management coping techniques, being flexible, and ability to talk with people during sometimes highly emotional situations.
a. When we are contacted to dispatch a consultant to a specific site, we go to our propriety software, type in the location and it shows us all of the consultants in our network within a 25 mile range. We begin by calling consultants who are closest to the site, then work outwards until we are able to find someone that can clear their schedule to provide the service. A rate of pay and cost of transportation is agreed upon, the consultant gets the appropriate paperwork and handouts emailed to them.
9. What are the requirements to join your panel?
a. We look for people who are master’s prepared clinicians, who are licensed to provide counseling in their state without additional supervision, who have professional liability insurance, and some form of specialized training in CIR. Many people in our network
have gone through training provided by approved instructors of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. CCN also provides a one day training that qualifies people to join us. There are other trainings that we consider adequate including our new, soon to be launched On-Line training that features a one hour coaching session with an experienced interventionist.
10. How do you join the CCN Provider Panel?
a. The easiest way to go to our Web Site www.crisiscare.com and look for the JOIN US tab at the top. It gives you access to our specific requirements, and online application process.
Dennis Potter, LMSW, CAADC, CCS, FAAETS, serves Director of Trainings and Consultant Relations at Crisis Care Network. He is a licensed social worker and certified addiction counselor. He has received training and supervision in Cognitive Therapy from the Beck Institute in Philadelphia, PA. He has participated in a train the trainer courses in Motivational Interviewing and has provided this training to a variety of mental health, substance abuse agencies and in the business community. He also provides training programs on various topics of mental health issues and treatment approaches, substance use disorders and treatment approaches, and critical incident stress management. Dennis, along with Paul LaBerteaux helped to form one of the first community based Crisis Response Teams in the country. He was one of the founding members of the Mid-West Michigan CISM Team and the Michigan Crisis Response Association. Dennis is recognized as a Fellow, by the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. To achieve this credential, he completed a comprehensive application and examination, along with supporting documentation, to validate his experience in working with survivors of traumatic events, knowledge of the literature, and level of education.
Crisis Care Network (CCN)
4115 Ayrshire Dr. SW
Wyoming, MI 49418
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