Critical Incident Report
Critical incident reports are brief written records of surprise encounters. Because the student doesn't enter these encounters with a predetermined purpose or goal, these records try to capture an unexpected event or occurrence. They are best used to describe unexpected conflict or expressions of emotion. (For instance, students often are faced with unanticipated conflict at meetings or a congregant may suddenly share a very personal experience.) Caught off guard, the student can be helped to reflect on what occurred. Critical incident reports seldom run longer than a page, and should include:
- A fairly detailed report of the incident.
- An attempt to analyze why the incident occurred and how the intern handled it.
- Questions that emerge from the incident. The intent of the critical incident report is to allow the student and mentor to reflect on what occurred, uncover its causes, learn to intervene spontaneously, and prepare a plan to cope with the consequences of the event. Critical incident reports should focus on such content as:
- What might have led up to this event? What happened before that caused this event to occur at this point in time and in this context? What did I do to intervene? What knowledge, values, skills, or feelings was my intervention based on? Did I notice any patterns in the way I handled this situation and the way I handle others like it?
- What effect did my intervention have on this event? Would anything have been more effective at this point in time?
- What is my assessment of this situation as I now see it? What needs to be repaired, soothed, and changed in the situation for next time?
- What should I do now? What will alter this situation? Why, when, how, and with whom should I plan to intervene again?
Sample Critical Incident Report