You might of experienced debriefing in many aspects of life, sports, the workplace, after a particular event. The purpose of a debrief is to discuss, process experiences, develop awareness, understand emotions and responses and learn.
As a young trumpet player, I recall debriefing with fellow musicians after an event, we would talk about aspects of the event as a group; what worked well, what needed some improvement; we discussed how we felt, what we thought about different experiences and shared ways we could view and respond to feelings and thoughts about experiences in future events.
At the time I didn’t fully understand how important this was; to me it was a normal activity after a concert. What I learned through these experiences was that talking about the event, our experiences, feelings and thoughts, positive or negative, upsetting or exhilarating, allowed me to learn, to accept that playing to audiences is a process of continuous reflection, developing awareness our individual responses and exploring new ways to view and learn from experiences. It also helped me to improve as a musician, accept my shortfalls, develop and grow.
Debriefing, like social support was found across the literature to be an important aspect of alleviating the risk of compassion fatigue among care professionals.
It is important to structure a debrief, first with agreement that the discussion either individually or in a group is a professional conversation that is confidential, to process experiences and to improve practice.
The debrief then progresses to understand the situation and experience by asking open-ended questions, exploring the response to the situation and experience including thoughts, feelings, reactions, critical issues relating to safety or security, reviewing the event through different lenses, discussing coping strategies and strengths.