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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Is critical incident stress debriefing a culturally meaningful trauma intervention for First Nations groups? Hughes, Megan

Abstract

Critical Incident Stress (CIS) in emergency workers and in victims of crises is widely held to be the possible precursor to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if left unattended. Indeed, the symptoms for CIS and PTSD overlap in all category areas. Today, the commonly used treatment for trauma in emergency workers is Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM). This system of interventions includes a debriefing session which facilitates people to fully remember the trauma events and their own reactions to it. CISM models were conceived and designed within and from a typically white, western viewpoint. However, one agency in Vancouver, First Nations Emergency Services Society (FNESS), provides CISM debriefing interventions and training to Native emergency workers and Native victims of crises. The purpose of this study was to document how Native participants perceived the CISM model as FNESS presented it and to understand whether the intervention was culturally meaningful for the First Nations participants in the CISM sessions. This study examined whether the mainstream CISM model, which is currently used by this agency, is culturally meaningful for populations of another culture receiving it. Narrative interviews were conducted with participants to determine their reactions to the session, their feelings regarding information presented, and their ability to make cultural meaning of the experience. Narrative analysis was used to determine themes across individuals. Theoretical implications of this research include addressing the gap in the literature of the subjective experiences of participants in CISM; no studies have used a purely qualitative methodology to study this topic. Also, this study looked at the important issue of the cross-cultural application of a mainstream intervention, particularly for a population with a history of complex traumas. Practical implications include providing information into the perceived effectiveness of the FNESS approach to a CISM framework and providing an opportunity for recipients' opinions to be heard.

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