Trauma recognition key to appropriate and effective casualty investigations
A new approach to investigative interviewing that acknowledges the often adverse mental impact upon ship’s crew following a marine casualty is the driving force behind new marine services company Recall Recover.
Dr Rachel Glynn-Williams a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Captain Terry Ogg have jointly developed the procedure called Trauma-informed Interviewing in a Marine Setting (TIMS™). The approach combines enhanced investigative interviewing techniques for marine casualties with expertise in ordinary human psychological responses in post-critical incident situations.
Terry and Rachel maintain that conventional interview processes are insufficiently cognizant of the adverse effects that stress and trauma have on witnesses. These processes can be very stressful for the seafarer, potentially adding to any post-incident stress.
Rachel holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Liverpool and is a Chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (AFBPsS) and a practitioner psychologist, registered with the Health Care Professions Council.
She has particular expertise in treating trauma-related disorders, such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, especially in people who have sustained personal injury and psychological trauma in the workplace. Rachel is an Accredited Practitioner with EMDR Association of UK and Ireland. Since establishing her independent practice in 2007, Rachel has helped hundreds of people to overcome debilitating fear, to regain their confidence and to return to a fulfilling work and home-life.
Rachel has received accredited training in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) approaches which are proven to minimise the psychological impact of critical, traumatic events involving groups of people, and to reduce the negative operational and economic consequences for the organisation concerned.
“The immense difficulties for ships’ crews arising from the current pandemic are a glaring illustration of how underlying stress can reach intolerable levels, even before a critical incident occurs, ”says Rachel. “As humans, our ordinary response to a critical incident can have a significant impact on how we feel, behave and think . As a consequence, there may be significant variations in the ability of a witness to recall clearly, chronologically and completely the information sought as part of casualty investigation interviews.”
By contrast, the TIMS protocols have been shown to encourage more complete, better quality information and evidence from crew interviewees while supporting their wellbeing as part of the interview process.
With the involvement of an established TIMS investigator, backed up by a clinical psychologist, TIMS aims to provide support and guidance for all crew and a pathway for on-going, more structured, psychological support where required and authorised.
The TIMS process begins at the moment the investigator arrives on board offering crew-wide guidance and self-support literature on mental wellbeing post-incident on the casualty vessel. As an option, an award-winning, digital app-based solution can be made available to companies, which provides immediate psychological support to those affected by trauma, as well as guidance on do’s and don’ts for those leaders and managers supporting them.
Early, yet low level, interventions post-incident have been shown to limit the possibility of post-traumatic stress and other psychological difficulties developing over time.
Having served 16 years at sea from deck cadet to master Terry worked for a leading international law firm from 1990 to 2004, where his primary role was as a marine investigator and consultant. He has been an independent investigator for the past 18 years where he continues to work on a wide range of marine and energy casualties in addition to expert witness work.
“The TIMS interview model itself is structured and delivered in ways that acknowledge and address the ordinary emotional and cognitive impacts of critical incidents, with the effect of supporting the wellbeing of the interviewee during the process, de-escalating their on- going stress levels, and maximising their chances of contributing a complete, accurate and reliable account of events,” says Terry.
“TIMS investigators are trained in awareness of human trauma responses, and how to take these into account and offer first line basic stress management strategies during the interview with witnesses, should this be required,” he adds.
“Put simply, we are turning the traditional approach to an investigation interview on its head. By moving the agenda away from the investigator towards the interviewees and interviewees’ interests, they will be in a more comfortable position to help in terms of the evidence the investigator can obtain. The approach also opens a pathway for the intervention of our psychologist and the mental wellbeing of the interviewee.”
The TIMS interview model has been developed with both in-person and remote interviewing in mind and can be delivered in either setting.
Where required and authorised, those crew who are more distressed by events and in need of greater support, can be sign-posted seamlessly towards more structured clinical assessment and psychologically-based interventions. Assessment can be carried out on-line in a tight time frame, and in-person, where possible and appropriate. Psychological therapy is available as a digital app-based platform or one-to-one on-line psychological therapy, provided by fully-qualified accredited psychological practitioners.
Hong Kong marine claims consultant Clive Beesley when asked said, “C Solutions support Recall Recover Limited and the innovative and empathetic approach to investigate interviewing.
“We are convinced that the TIMS model will prove to be of great value to all those concerned in the fall out of a marine casualty including shipowners, ship managers, crew managers and agents, P&I Clubs, law firms and other casualty investigators. Most importantly this approach will benefit crew members being interviewed when they are at their most vulnerable,” he concluded.