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Post-Piracy Care for Seafarers The Seamen’s Church Institute

Debriefing 1. Why Debrief?

Debriefing aims to prevent or reduce the development of symptoms of trauma following a traumatic experience. The process tries to help participants understand they are still normal people even though they lived through an unusually difficult situation.

2. What is Debriefing?

There are three types. Operational Debriefing (OD) describes the post-event interviewing and summarizing as a standard organizational response to disaster. Psychological Debriefing (PD) focuses on the present reaction of the person(s) who just experienced a traumatic event (e.g., immediately following a release from captivity). Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) aims to help crisis responders deal with the emotional experience of those situations.

3. How does Debriefing Happen?

Individually or in groups, typically in a single session, and ideally within a few hours following the event. Debriefing is sometimes used as an ongoing treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

4. Does Debriefing Work?

The American and British literature on Psychological Debriefing suggests that it is ineffective in treating PTSD or in preventing symptoms from developing. In some studies, it was found that individual debriefing could have a negative impact. However, CISD can be useful for first responders.

5. So What Does Work?

Generally, more complex treatments are superior to Psychological Debriefing. Treatments that are effective take the life history of the individual into account, including cultural factors, and cater to individual needs. Some cognitive and behavioral therapies are considered effective. Reference: Foa, E. (2009). Effective Treatments for PTSD. New York: Guilford Press. [2nd ed.]; National Center for PTSD:

_________________________________________________________ The Seamen’s Church Institute is conducting an investigation into the experiences of seafarers, including those who have been involved in experiences with piracy.

If you would be willing to speak with us, please contact Dr. Michael Stuart Garfinkle, Clinical Researcher at the Seamen’s Church Institute.

T +1 212-349-9090 E Skype drgarfinkle

The Seamen’s Church Institute |

Post-Piracy Care for Seafarers: Debriefing  

Reference card for debriefing seafarers after piracy incidents