CAPS Defusing and Debriefing Process - University of Houston
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CAPS Defusing and Debriefing Process

CAPS provides support through defusing and debriefing with the UH campus community after a traumatic event that may include recent deaths by suicide or homicide, natural disaster, events with a high degree of threat to the UH community, or any significantly distressing event.

Defusing is done the day of the incident and is designed to assure understanding of their reactions and to discuss resources for further services when needed. Defusing interventions involve individuals who were directly involved in the incident and take place at a location secured by the UH campus community caller. They are designed to assist individuals in coping in the short term and address immediate needs.

Debriefings are usually the second level of intervention for those directly affected by the incident and often the first for those not directly involved. A debriefing is normally done within 72 hours of the incident and gives the individual or group the opportunity to talk about their experience, how it has affected them, identify individuals at risk, and inform the individual or group about services available to them in their community.

When providing defusing and debriefing interventions, we are guided by APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and the Mission Statement of the University of Houston. Defusing and Debriefing involves 3 main parties:

  • Consultant: CAPS liaison or the consultant on duty if liaison cannot be reached
  • Consultee: UH student, faculty or staff members who calls and/or is identified as the contact person for the group impacted by traumatic incident
  • Individual(s) of Concern: UH Students, faculty or staff members directly impacted by traumatic event


Stage I: Introductions Introduction of CAPS staff to all individuals of concern, review defusing process
Stage II: Reactions CAPS will listen to reactions, normalize reactions, review likely symptoms experienced after traumatic event
Stage III: Coping CAPS will discuss coping strategies, how to reach out to support system, stress management, relaxation, recognizing when coping strategies are not enough
Stage IV: Resources CAPS will review CAPS services including daytime and after hours crisis services.
Stage V: Termination CAPS staff will remain until group has dissipated; locate consultee to inform them of departure and availability for debriefing.
Stage VI: Follow Up Consultant will contact consultee the next day to assess current status of individuals of concern and offer debriefing services.


Stage I: Introductions Introduction of CAPS staff to all individuals of concern, review debriefing process
Stage II: Disclosure of Events CAPS will invite individuals of concern to disclose the details of the event from their own perspective
Stage III: Feelings and Reactions CAPS will discuss feelings and emotional responses of individuals of concern
Stage IV: Coping Strategies CAPS will normalize reactions, review coping strategies and discuss when to seek further services.
Stage V: Termination CAPS will review CAPS services including daytime and after hours crisis services and additional resources and availability for further services

How to Contact CAPS After a Traumatic Event

  • Call the CAPS front office at (713) 743-5454 and ask to speak with your assigned liaison or the consultant on duty.
  • Be prepared to inform the CAPS consultant of the traumatic event.
  • Be prepared to answer questions from the CAPS consultant so they can gain pertinent information to effectively support you.
  • Be prepared to collaborate with the CAPS consultant on the defusing and debriefing intervention plan.