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Crisis Debriefing

In New York City, in 2018, Child Protective Services investigated 53,676 reports of abuse and neglect, of which 20,711 (39%) were indicated. As first responders to these difficult and demanding cases, child protective services workers often deal with traumatic events related to their work, such as child fatalities, severe child physical and sexual abuse, and violence in the field. There is heightened potential for child protective services staff to develop symptoms of Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) due to exposure to traumatic events in the course of their daily work. The primary goal of The NYSPCC’s Crisis Debriefing sessions is to mitigate the impact of the critical incident and to accelerate the recovery processes. Crisis Debriefing sessions are


60 minutes for individuals and 90 minutes for groups and range from one to two sessions, depending on need. Sessions include an integration of education, emotional expression, and cognitive restructuring. Concepts of self-care and coping skills are covered. The NYSPCC’s services also aim to enhance group cohesion and unit performance. The NYSPCC’s staff meets individually with child protective services staff members following these sessions if needed and referrals for short- or long-term therapy are provided if deemed appropriate. To meet the needs of all personnel and potential crisis situations, services are available for and tailored to address a variety of issues, including: child fatalities; bereavement; grief and loss; threats or assaults on employees; incidents of severe child abuse or neglect; or incidents of severe domestic violence. The NYSPCC provides ongoing support to specific high-need areas (i.e., sexual abuse units) and management teams to increase Children’s Services capacity to manage ongoing crisis. The NYSPCC utilizes the proprietary Restoring Resiliency Response (RRR) protocol, developed by Executive Director Mary L. Pulido, Ph.D., to create a safe space for participants to review the impact of the crisis situation on their functioning, identify their current stress reactions; express their feelings; learn skills for integrating and mastering the event; and learn to identify, enlist, and accept help from their support systems. Providing a safe space for everyone to voice feelings about loss is important for team building and setting up needed support systems instrumental in returning staff to previous levels of functioning.

Would you or someone you know like to receive Crisis Debriefing services?

The NYSPCC has a contractual relationship to provide Crisis Debriefing services for the employees of the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. If you are interested in these services as a member of ACS, please notify your manager who can then make a referral for the service. After approvals have been obtained, Luisa Nannini, Assistant Director of Clinical Services, can be reached at The NYSPCC at 212-233-5500, ext. 203 or lnannini@nyspcc.org 

2018 Program Statistics

The NYSPCC helped 195 child protective services workers manage their secondary traumatic stress and build resiliency.


“I think that the debriefing was a great idea. It helped me to understand the anger and denial that I have been going through since this tragic death.”

“At first I was skeptical about attending this session because I feared that what I shared could end up in my personnel file. However, once the session started, I felt very comfortable, relaxed and at ease with discussing my feelings. I do feel better and will utilize the self care suggestions.”

“I think that this session helped everyone open up and express their feelings. I would participate in another. The facilitator was very informative and helpful. Thank you so much for your time and support!”

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