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Home Knowledge CenterCritical Incident Stress Management

Critical Incident Stress Management Services

The following information is for employer-based plans.

What is Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)?

CISM is a service that helps you handle the impact of any workplace event that you believe may disrupt the present or future productivity of your workforce due to psychological stress or trauma. Incidents like these take a toll not only on individual employees, but on the organization itself. Critical Incident Stress Management services may reduce the potential for absenteeism, presenteeism, low morale, diminished productivity, employee turnover, and disability claims.

How do I access CISM services?

If you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), your management staff calls the EAP toll-free number and asks for the Employee Assistance Consultant team. A consultant will work with you to determine the most appropriate level of response for the specific incident.

What CISM services are typically provided by an EAP?

  • Management consultation/needs assessment

  • Onsite group and individual support

  • Group or individual support by phone

  • Customized seminars regarding grief and loss, managing change, stress management, resilience, and more

  • EAP handouts with additional support and information

  • Community resource referrals

How does CISM help?

A range of interventions are used to minimize and manage stress from critical incidents, and to assist in the recovery of individuals and the organization as effectively and efficiently as possible. The goal is to prevent or minimize long-term stress responses, enhance employees’ overall adjustment at work and home, and support the normal functioning of your organization.

What happens during an onsite debriefing?

Debriefings provide an opportunity for attendees to talk about what happened and to process the emotional and psychological impact of the event. A debriefing offers a safe environment for employees to share thoughts and feelings and support one another. The facilitator helps to normalize their responses to the event, provide information about stress management and/or coping with grief, and inform about possible resources including the EAP. These services can be delivered to a group of employees or individually. The facilitator also may make available educational handouts specific to the incident.

Examples of Critical Incidents

  • Death of an employee (on or offsite)

  • Industrial accidents

  • Workforce reduction/reorganization

  • Natural disasters

  • Threats of violence

  • Robberies

  • Homicide

  • Suicide

  • Acts of violence or terrorism

There may be other incidents, in addition to those listed above, that can cause stress, grief, or trauma. Call your EAP representative to determine the best response.


Trauma Grief Employee Assistance Program


Managing Distress After a Violent Attack Witnessing a Traumatic Event Stress Reactions and Self-Care Strategies After a Traumatic Event

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This material is provided by Cigna for informational/educational purposes only. It is not medical/clinical advice.

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