What is CISM? Why do you need it?
Helping Leaders Lead
When Life is Hard
Leadership in Crisis:
As leaders you’ve gotten the training you need and are savvy about the potential challenges of your organization, but when a crisis or a disaster strikes, you are only one person, or one of a handful of leaders. In ministry you may be on a staff of two, and have a board of maybe 20. If you are a wise leader, you are only too aware of your own limitations and those of your staff.
A Critical Incident is defined as an immediate and defined problem that creates unusual amounts of stress on a group or an entire community.
These include: Acts of Violence, Terrorism, Suicide, High Profile Scandals, Pandemic (Mass Illness), Events with Massive Media Interest (i.e. pedophilia in the church).
As a Leader you NEED to be able to respond and answer these questions:
How will you compensate for those limitations when everyone around you is clamoring for your leadership and problem solving skills?
As a leader who is fully invested in the people entrusted to you, how will you mitigate your own feelings of grief, fear, anger and anxiety in an emergency?
What will you do when something goes wrong (and something always goes wrong in a critical incident!)?
How will you take care of yourself in a critical situation so that you can take care of others?
What is your Game Plan?
As a leader, everyone will be coming to you when calamity strikes (and I think we know it eventually will, to us, or someone near us). Critical Incidents are severe enough they often (with ease) overwhelm the natural resources of institutions and people surrounding them. (You can’t use your church as a shelter if it’s just been blown away by a tornado… or under flood waters… or a crime scene…)
Moses had Aaron to help hold his arms up when he was too weak to do it himself. Who do you have? Who can you rely on when everything around you is under siege?
Why Critical Incident Stress Management Teams? (CISM)
Trained Critical Incident responders know how to spot Post Traumatic injuries, when to refer individuals for additional psychiatric, medical or spiritual care, and how to help leaders take care of themselves so they are more available for those they lead. These teams normally consist of peers (those who are like those injured, but not directly affected) Pastoral Caregivers/Chaplains, and Clinicians. By providing external “psychological/spiritual first aid” we know the path to recovery is greater for all involved and less people develop long term illnesses such as PTSD. Additionally, an outside team helps the caregivers take care of themselves, which is often a major source of burnout and loss of leaders (even spiritual ones) after a traumatic incident.
The Denver Seminary CISM Team is a very unique organization that is designed to react specifically to faith based organizations/churches as well as post-secondary institutions.
In addition to crisis response the Denver Seminary CISM team helps with individual healing for leaders, consultation, education and information on how to help prepare a response plan to react when a disaster strikes.
Even if you’re not in a place to implement these plans, advocate for yourself and your leadership team to take this seriously… Check out the Denver Seminary CISM Teams Website to see what they’ve done and more on how they can help you…