IN MY VIEW: Debriefing sessions

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Several times I have reminded my wife to make sure and go through a debriefing session to minimize vicarious trauma occurring with her. Nine times out of 10, we are seeking the session to be done by a ‘professional’, someone with credentials on the wall and that’s okay when in fact we can do this with careful considerations. Let me see if I can shed some light.

The term ‘vicarious trauma’ simply means the projection on you of the individual’s situation you are dealing with. There are times when we become so involved in hearing some of the details of the circumstance that we actually feel the trauma that was experienced by this distraught person, and some of the stuff hits us pretty hard.

We may not realize it during this brief talk but it enters your psyche and emotional domain and stays there until a trigger goes off. So many times we are told to let it out, talk about it and let go, but pride and guilt keeps the trauma within. When this is allowed to pile up, something is said and we blow up with dire results. You’ve read in previous issues how words can never be retrieved or taken back. Once you’ve said something, it is done.

One of my favourite things to do in regards to debriefing is to go to our cabin and stay a night or two and relax and unwind as it were. The silence almost allows you to hear your heart beat, no immediate pressures, no telephone or television to distract us. After a good meal and a quick tour of our space, we sit and talk about the week and how it affected us individually. This exercise is just to ensure we keep nothing inside or let it build-up, instead releasing as soon as possible the unfortunate experience of the people seeking guidance and assurance.

In my view, people are strong and have the ability to self-analyze but not all of us are capable. We men like to say and think we have everything under control, but in fact are the most stubborn when it comes to debriefing and talking about our situations and circumstances. Our pride gets in the way and hinders our growth as individuals, but we soon learn that by helping ourselves we become more aware and are then able to help others.

I hope we understand that this is about not allowing stuff to build up inside, that it is wise to talk about it and then to let it go.