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Emotional group debriefing of humanitarian aid workers: the experience of ICRC

01-05-1998 No 1998;149:218-28 by Barthold Bierens de Haan

Extract from Swiss Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 1998;149:218-28. Article reproduced on this site with the kind permission of the publisher.


Humanitarian aid workers working in armed conflict and disaster situations are suffering from increasingly violent emotional reactions. In order to help them to complete their job successfully, to increase their resistance to stress and their efficiency in the field, they must be supported. For this, emotional debriefing in group (psychological debriefing) is the right measure to take. This paper reports on different interventions from the ICRC Stress Management Unit. The principles of emotional group debriefing are underlined. This procedure might be effective because it is based on an encounter group whose healing capacity is well known. A simplified four steps procedure is proposed to make the conduct of such supportive groups easier.

 Keywords: humanitarian aid workers, stress, psychotrauma, post traumatic stress disorder, debriefing, encounter group  

Full text available in French only  

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