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experienced a trauma are seen in a group for 1 to 3 hours and within a
week to a month of the original traumatic event. Risk factors are evalu-
ated and a combination of information and opportunity to discuss their
experiences during and after the trauma are provided ( Bisson, McFarlane,
and Rose, 2000 ). Most debriefing groups use crisis intervention techni-
ques in a very abbreviated form and may provide educational information
to group members about typical reactions to traumas, what to look for if
group members experience any of these symptoms, and where to seek
professional assistance if additional help is needed. Debriefing groups may
also attempt to identify group members at risk of developing PTSD.
Despite the considerable appeal of this approach, there is little evi-
dence that debriefing works to reduce the number of people who experi-
ence PTSD, and there is some evidence that it may increase PTSD over
other forms of treatment ( van Emmerik, Kamphuis, Hulsbosch, &
Emmelkamp, 2002 ). Debriefing may be less effective than no treatment at
all following a trauma (van Emmerik, Arnold, Kamphuis, et al., 2002).
There are several primary reasons for the lack of effectiveness of
debriefing, as follows:
￿ Debriefing interferes with natural healing processes and sometimes
results in bypassing usual support systems such as family, friends, and
religious groups.
￿ Upon hearing that PTSD symptoms are normal reactions to trauma,
some victims of trauma actually develop the symptoms as a result of
the suggestions provided in the debriefing session, particularly when
the victim hasn't had time to process the various feelings he or she
may have about the trauma.
￿ Clients seen in debriefing include both those at risk and those not at
risk. Better results may be obtained by screening clients at risk
through a review of past exposure to traumas that may have served as
catalysts for the current development of PTSD.
Combinations of Therapy
Resick, Nisith, Weaver, Astin, and Feuer (2002) tested two forms of cog-
nitive therapy with women who had been sexually assaulted. The
researchers found that cognitive therapy using exposure techniques was
very successful in treating PTSD in this sample and that the success of
this approach would bode well for PTSD caused by traumas other than
sexual assault and rape. Many of the women in the study who showed
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