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Critical Incident Stress Intervention and Support Protocol

Social support systemsSocial Support Systems is arguably the UK’s most experienced organisation in the field of post-incident psychological support.

Our experience of providing effective psychological recovery operations across a broad spectrum of high-profile and international operational incidents means that when disaster strikes, we can be relied upon to provide the best service possible for our partners

Because our team consists only of serving and former emergency service and military personnel, our operational and cultural knowledge assures our partners that the robust and effective solutions we provide are centric to their core service delivery and business continuity needs.

Unlike purely academic consultancies, we actually know and understand what it feels like to be involved in a critical incident from an operational perspective.

Our unique and entirely person-centred solutions, represent the cutting edge in the resolution of posttraumatic stress in first responders.

An evolutionary step in Critical incident support

The Critical Incident Stress Intervention and Support (CrISIS) Protocol, is a multifaceted, non-linear, and responsive approach to supporting organisations and their people following a critical incident.

Tried and tested during the psychological recovery operations SSS conducted following the London attacks of 2017, and the Grenfell Tower disaster, CrISIS represents an evolutionary development in resolving posttraumatic stress.

Unlike older, less effective ‘trauma risk management’ systems, CrISIS is not merely a system of referral, but rather, provides comprehensive, evidence-based and highly effective system of 1:1 and group interventions for those affected by a traumatic reaction – thus negating the need to refer onwards into medical pathways and facilitating a quicker and sustainable return to normal function.

What is a critical incident?

Basically, a critical incident is an incident that has the potential to overwhelm the natural coping mechanisms of those involved.

There is no hard and fast definition, as traumatic reactions are highly subjective to the individual, but we can consider some operational incident types more likely to be linked with the development of a traumatic reaction and the future onset of PTSD:

  • Multiply fatality
  • Death of a colleague
  • Death of a child
  • Personal trauma
  • Violent crime
  • Life changing or limiting physical injury
  • Experiencing a series of critical  incidents over a short period of time creating an accumulative effect
  • Incidents where there may be a personal meaning
  • Incidents which are disturbing or shocking e.g. murder scenes or suicide
  • Incidents involving operational difficulties eg. Flashover, near misses,contamination, firearms discharge
  • Incidents which have media attention or a public response
  • Difficult calls e.g. fire survival call
  • Failed resuscitation attempts
  • Terror attack

It is also possible to define an incident as ‘critical’ if one or more responders are found to have suffered a peritraumatic reaction, using the RAIDS peritraumatic risk assessment process.

Linking evidence-based solutions with real word experience

Social Suport Systems CIC Director, Dr John Durkin, was responsible for acquiring ‘evidence-based’ status with SAMHSA for Everly and Mitchell’s system of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), and along with fellow director’s Paul Meakin & Sean McCallum has been at the forefront of the development of the CrISIS Protocol. Partially evolved from the CISM system, Durkin, Meakin & McCallum have applied Gerbodian principles of applied metapsychology to the original CISM system, and an entirely pure person-centred system of facilitation.

This non-linear and responsive approach has proved highly effective in real word application following some of Europes highest profile critical incidents, and Social Support Systems has supported many first responders throughout periods of crisis, providing truly longitudinal recovery from trauma.

Need a fast response to help your people and your organisation?

SSS can provide a CrISIS response within 24 hours if required and has international reach.

The CrISIS Protocol can be initiated immediately and our team will liaise directly with your management team to provide guidance throughout the critical incident and its aftermath.

For more details on the CrISIS Protocol and how it can help mitigate psychological trauma, please contact us here





A truly person-centred, and highly effective approach to #PTSD #Stress and #anxiety #87RT

There are many therapists and counsellors that claim to be ‘person-centred’ in their approach, but how do people in distress even begin to understand what that actually means?

To many, the all-comsuming anguish they are enduring is paramount, and all they want is recovery. Recovery at all costs. Recovery from nightmares, recovery from flashbacks, and an end to panic attacks and the debilitating nausea and fear.

To whom do they turn when they cannot endure it any longer? Why, the experts – of course!

At this point, does the individual really have any interest in what is person-centred and what is not? I think it’s debatable at the point of crisis, but it is clear that it is at this very point that many ‘therapeutic’ relationships are damaged to the point where recovery cannot then even be a subsequence.

I cannot help but think that being ‘person-centred’ is merely the latest in a line of buzz words for many within the mental health sector, with little in the way of actual substance beneath the veneer. For in order to be truly person-centred, then we must eradicate judgement and interpretation – skills which are important within the clinical domain, through which most mental health ‘treatments’ are pipelined. I’ve seen being person-centred described as being ‘responsive to the wishes of the client’ – when all the clients wish for is to get better, then a natural void is formed into which steps the expert, and their opinion(s).

When dealing with someone in crisis, we have to be mindful that our conduct, attitude, and systematic approach are the most important factors in order for the individual to achieve recovery. This may sound self-evident as you read, but it is something that has been lacking within the clinical approach to mental health for years.

Many of our clients have already been through a normative therapy and counselling route, prior to their engagement with Social Support Systems. They’re often in crisis by that time, and we regularly hear stories of how they’ve felt failed, and worse, judged, by their previous counsellors, therapists, and the mental health system in general.

I remember one client telling me (during her initial consultation) that if I tilted my head to one side and appeared to feel sorry for her at any point, she would get up and walk out – she was so sick of being made to feel an object of pity, that her trust in mental health service providers was now somewhat nil.

What is often described as the ‘therapeutic relationship’ can clearly then have an affect upon the outcome of any recovery pathway, though that does not rest solely upon the professional standards, competence and the experience of the ‘expert’.

Crucially, the event of two individuals sitting together, is an act of communion. It is an act of communication.

When one of the individuals present is an ‘expert’, or perhaps (more importantly) considers themselves so, then naturally and consequently that communal relationship is not balanced. This is the very first challenge of the person-centred approach – the client is the underdog. They are needy due to crisis, and they are unknowing due to their lack of qualification. They are not the equal of the ‘expert’ sat before them.

Social Support Systems  facilitators do not consider themselves to be the expert of anyone’s experiences. We know that the expert of experience, is s/he that had the experience.

After all, to claim some form of expertise by applying interpretation can serve only to augment the initial imbalance within the communion. Indeed, our facilitator’s first task is to restore equality to the relationship, and this is achieved by strictly adhering to our rules of facilitation.

In this manner, we achieve a thoroughly non-judgemental and safe environment in which people can consider themselves important within the process, and able to talk about their concerns free from the fear of interpretation and it’s consequences.

In such an environment, it then becomes not only possible but much easier for the client to talk about the unspeakable. A far more trusting relationship is developed, and It is in this fashion that we can, and do, enable an individual to reach into their darkest depths, and reveal the thing that they’ve dreaded for so long…

This is the true nature of being ‘person-centred’, and i’m convinced there is no better way of helping people in crisis through poor mental health.

To find out more about our person-centred work, or how we can help you or your organisation please contact us using the form below.


Sean McCallum

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When you’re struggling to cope with #anxiety #stress or #depression we’re here for you…

If you’re struggling to cope…

  • We won’t judge you
  • We won’t label you
  • We won’t impose our own ideas on you

But, we will…

  • Support you
  • Always be interested in you
  • Take responsibility for your recovery

Call 01623 700320 to arrange an appointment.

With us, you can talk about your #trauma #anxiety or #stress freely, and what it means for you, without being judged or labelled…

-Sick of everything you tell your counsellor being interpreted?

-Tired of being judged because of what happened to you?

-Unhappy with being taught how to ‘cope’ with your issues instead of finding resolution?

Come to us:

We just listen, because we know you are the expert of your own experience, and we know the resolution you need is already inside you.

Call 01623 700320 to arrange an appointment.



Visit our website & see how we help emergency services with #ptsd #trauma #anxiety #depression #stress

We have a proud and history of supporting emergency services and their people in the aftermath of critical incidents.

Our experience of counter-terror psychological recovery and major critical Incident Stress Management operations is unrivalled, & we can demonstrate a remarkable level of effectiveness compared with normative counsellors or therapists.

Our facilitators are all serving or former emergency service and military personnel.

  • They don’t judge
  • They don’t label
  • They don’t diagnose
  • They don’t interpret
  • They don’t teach people to ‘cope’.

They just get results.

They speak the same language as your teams, because they’ve  been there.

To find out how we can help your people and organisation to secure and retain good mental health in the most difficult of conditions, visit our website:

For emergency mobilisation of our Critical Incident Support team please contact us here

Our Clients Do Recover From #PTSD

Difficult to believe? Take a look at some of our feedback!

If you’re suffering, get in touch.

  • We don’t judge.
  • We don’t interpret.
  • We don’t analyse.
  • We don’t teach you to cope.
  • We don’t patronise.

We do, however, know that you are the expert of your own experience, and that the answer to your trauma, lies within you.

Call 01623 700320 to begin your recovery journey.

Dealing with #grief and #loss after a death

Everybody experiences grief, or loss, in their own way. It is an entirely subjective experience, and dependent on many factors.

It represents a broad range of reactions and seems to be an essential part of the continuity of our lives.

There are a number of theories which attempt to describe the process of coming to terms with someone’s death, such as the familiar ‘Kubler-Ross’ model which describes a response involving Progressive stages in coming to terms with someone dying:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Whilst some recover relatively quickly, others take a while – and for some, it seems that the emotional pain and distress caused by the death of a loved one or close family member will never go away.

Regardless of theoretical models, what is for sure, is that grief is an unpleasant experience and may affect you over a lengthy period of time. Though of course, it must be remembered that death is a natural part of our lives, and thus the general outcome of the grieving process is to continue to live with fulfilment once we have adjusted to life without the presence of the person we have lost.

For some though, emotional attachment, the nature of the death or dying process can augment the sense of loss, or loss of control, creating a sense of shock, helplessness, emotional numbness, anger, frustration, and a whole host of other feelings and emotions which negatively impact on one’s life and well-being – according to the UK National Health Service, there are a number of key factors that indicate you should seek help:

  • You don’t feel able to cope with overwhelming emotions or daily life
  • The intense emotions aren’t subsiding
  • You’re not sleeping normally
  • You have symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Your relationships are suffering
  • You’re having sexual problems
  • You’re becoming accident-prone.

Whilst such lists can be helpful to doctors in assessment processes, they are not exhaustive of the whole human experience and will not adequately explain the differences between the grief experiences of different people.

It’s safe to say, from a person-centred point of view, that you will know when you are becoming overwhelmed, because you are the expert in your own experience.

If you do feel that you are struggling to cope, and your psychological well-being is being adversely affected to the point you are in distress or crisis, and if you feel you need help, you can contact us to tell us about it and get support.

You can have confidence that our TIR facilitators can effectively support you – we aren’t like normal counsellors, therapists or psychiatrists. You can learn more about how our unique person-centred approach to mental health is different by clicking here

Please Contact us to arrange a  consultation and discuss your needs.


Critical Incident Support? You Need A Team You Can trust!

Social Support Systems has the knowledge and experience to help your people recover quickly following a critical Incident.

Our pedigree is second to none, and has developed from real-world experience of handling some of the most critical and high-profile incidents the UK has experienced in recent years.

If your organisation works in high-threat environments, the psychological well-being of your staff is paramount in order to ensure them functioning effectively throughout spate conditions or operations that threaten business continuity.

To read more about our how our Critical Incident Support knowledge and experience can help your organisation please visit us here

Alternatively, please call (+44) 01623 700320 and we’ll call you back to discuss your needs