The CAPS Crisis Response Team (CRT) focuses on the mental health needs of students and offers guidance to staff and faculty in times of crisis or trauma. During the Pandemic, CAPS is committed to offering the same 3 CRT interventions (see below for information on Briefing, Defusing, Debriefing) in a new live virtual format or in person. These interventions are done for groups of students and determined by several factors including time since the incident has occurred, size of the group, and impact on those who need support. The approach to campus responses is based on Critical Incident Stress Management theory, best-practice standards, and experience. For students in need of individual (one on one) counseling support, our Counselor on Duty services are available when CAPS is open. Please feel free to reach out for consultation or questions.
A critical incident, for CAPS purposes, is defined quite broadly. It is an event that may cause a temporary state of psychological unrest with a reaction causing a state of emotional turmoil. A critical incident can be a sudden, powerful event outside of the range of ordinary human experience. It has the potential to overwhelm the usual effective coping skills of either an individual or a group. While there are many types of critical incidents on a college campus (see Dean of Students for additional resources and consultation), the following are examples of the kinds of incidents to which CAPS is prepared to respond.
- Death (accident, suicide, etc) of a student, faculty, or staff member
- Traumatic injury such a student being injured in a car accident
- Hate crimes
- Acts of Violence
- National or local tragedies
- Campus emergencies such as residence hall fires
Need to Consult?
Response Team Intervention
As a faculty or staff member, you are always welcome to call us and consult about a CAPS Crisis Response to a critical incident. In some cases, we may conclude that a formal intervention by mental health professionals at CAPS is appropriate. Following are brief descriptions of the three most often used group interventions. We strongly recommend that attendance at any intervention be on a voluntary basis. A list of questions are included to help us, in coordination with you, make an informed decision as to which type of intervention would be most appropriate for your students.
|Intervention||Timing||Duration of Intervention||Target Group||Potential Goal|
|Briefing:||As needed; On-going and post-event; may be repeated as needed||30 – 60 minutes||Heterogeneous large or small groups||Information, control rumors, reduces acute distress, increase cohesion, and facilitate resilience, screening and triage.|
|Defusing:||On-going events and post-events (less than or equal to 12 hours)||1 hour or more, depending on the size of the group||Small homogeneous groups||Stabilization, ventilation, reduces acute distress, screening, and information, increase cohesion, and facilitate resilience.|
|Debriefing:||Post-event; ~1-10 days for acute incidents, ~3-4 weeks post-disaster recovery phase||2 hours or more, depending on the size of the group||Small homogeneous groups with equal trauma exposure (e.g., workgroups, emergency services, military)||Increase cohesion, ventilation, information, and normalization, reduce acute distress, facilitate resilience, screening and triage. Follow-up essential.|
Mission of CAPS Critical Incident Response Team
What is CISM
Reduce the impact of crisis-related stress in yourself and others
- Tips for Faculty: The following set of recommendations is meant to offer guidance for educators to help themselves and students grieve and heal.
- Give yourself time to reflect on the event, how you are feeling, and how others might be feeling.
- Become as well informed as possible about the facts and prepare your response.
- Be aware that there is no “right” way to grieve or mourn. You can share your own response and normalize and encourage respect for variations of grieving.
- Consider providing students with copies of "What You Can Expect" (a document you can request from CAPS).
- Don’t fear asking your students how they are doing. Provide needed time to talk about the incident and the student’s feelings.
- If the death was by suicide, acknowledge the difficulty around "making sense" of the death.
- Show appreciation of student’s willingness to talk about their thoughts and feelings and remind them about resources on campus.
- Return the class to the normal routine as soon as appropriate.
- Offer a referral to CAPS to any student you may be concerned about.
- Contact CAPS as needed for additional support and consultation.
Loss during the Pandemic
Much of the content on this page has been adapted from Grand Valley State and Penn State resources.