Debriefing is giving the opportunity for a child to xpress himself about his joys and concerns about things that happened in his life.” Käthi explained that it is important because children are valuable to us yet vulnerable. By helping them work out their feelings and tell their story they can turn the page and move on. The characteristics of agood debriefer were outlined, as were age-appropriate ways of making a room welcoming and conducive to talking and listening. It is important to explain to children and parents the purpose of debriefing and the limits of confidentiality.


  • Train more people in debriefing skills
  • Equip people to work with under 8s who think concretely, 8-12s who are beginning to think abstractly and with teens who are becoming independent in their thinking.
  • Have creative materials available and become competent in using them – consider toys, drawing, puppets shows etc for 4-7s; drawings, stories, poems, timelines etc for 8-12s
  • Consider significant actions such as laying down stones on which a burden is written that may help older children
  • Work within the limits of your expertise and learn to recognise when to refer on to another professional. Become familiar with that route.


Debbie Hawker (Interhealth)

Käthi Schmid (OMF Switzerland)

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