CRIS 303 Acute Stress, Grief and Trauma

A general overview and analysis of the impact and consequences of acute stress on victims, first responders, families, and community members. Particular attention is paid to effective counseling strategies, methods and techniques for immediate response, fostering resiliency, and cultural differences.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.

Course Guide

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With the increase in the number of critical incidents and natural disasters in the past few years, over 80% of individuals will experience acute stress at some point in their lives. Including incidents that involve death, such as murder, suicide, accidents, starvation, sudden infant death syndrome, miscarriages, heart attacks, and natural disasters, the long-term effects of grief and trauma can wreak havoc on its victims. The ability to work through the acute stress can mitigate the effects of long-term trauma in the lives of those impacted. The combined strategies of effective psychological first aid and grief counseling can relieve the acute stress response, foster resiliency, speed up the healing process, and mitigate the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder in the life of a traumatized individual.

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

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Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussion Assignments (3)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student will create a thread in response to the 3 questions posed by the instructor. Each thread must be at least 300 words. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 1 other classmate’s thread. Each reply must be at least 200 words. (CLO: A, B, C, E, F, I, L)

Crisis Personnel Assignments (2)

Crisis Personnel: Interviewee Identification Assignment

The student will identify a member of the community (“Crisis Personnel”) who is involved in the regular response to crises in the community that must be approved by the instructor. Examples include a police officer, firefighter, medical/mental health professional, or pastoral leader. In 150 words, the student will provide a description of the personnel’s regular response to crisis. Additionally, the student will describe what he/she hopes to learn and apply from the interview. (CLO: D, G)

Crisis Personnel: Interview Summary Assignment

The student will interview a Crisis Personnel (previously approved by the instructor) using a list of 5 questions provided in the assignment instructions and will prepare a 500–750-word write up on his/her findings in the interview, as well as a personal reflection. The student will be provided with etiquette and tips on how to conduct his/her interview in the instructions. The student may not conduct the interview until the interviewee has been identified in the appropriate module: week and approved by the instructor. Students must use at least 1 scholarly source and 1 biblical integration in the personal reflection section. The scholarly source must be current (published within the last 5 years). (CLO: D, G)

Research Paper Assignments (3)

The student will build a 1250-2000-word Research Paper that summarizes and discusses acute stress response. Over the duration of the course, the student will build and submit his/her paper in current APA format in 3 parts: creating a title page, purpose statement, outline, and reference document, creating an annotated bibliography, and submitting his/her final paper. The Research Paper will include a reference page with at least 5 outside sources as well as course texts and Scripture. All outside sources must be scholarly in nature and must have been published in the last 5 years. Use of “pop culture” resources such as Psychology Today or websites that cannot be clearly classified as scholarly is not permitted.

Research Paper: Title, Purpose, Outline, References Assignment

The student will compose the title page, write a purpose statement for the paper and include an outline and three references for the paper. 

Research Paper: Annotated Bibliography Assignment

The student will compose an annotated bibliography for the Research Paper. The student will compile a list of at least 5 scholarly sources (this number will not include the required texts or Bible) and that would be considered current (published within the last 5 years) in current APA format. Each source citation must be accompanied by a brief paragraph (100–150 words) summarizing what the source is about and the relevant information it brings to the paper. 

Research Paper: Final Assignment

Utilizing information presented in this course, as well as theoretical and practical elements from academic and Christian sources, the student will compile an original Research Paper of 1250-2000 words of body text in current APA formatting. The Research Paper must include a current APA title page and reference page and contain a minimum of 5 scholarly sources in addition to the textbooks and Scripture. Course materials and Scripture cannot be relied upon for major sections in the paper, with the exception of the biblical integration section. The body of the paper will summarize and discuss the various symptoms of acute stress reactions, acute stress disorder (as well as the difference between the two), the diagnostic guidelines, and effective treatment strategies. The student will submit this assignment to Turnitin to check for potential plagiarism. (CLO: A, B, C, D, H, J, K, L)

Case Study Assignment

The student will review a case provided and will complete a 750-word paper focused on exploring the nature of the crisis presented, suggesting steps for alleviating the crisis, teaching coping skills, and developing resiliency. A final section must assess the grieving process of the primary victim and whether he/she effectively grieved the loss. Integration of at least 3 scholarly sources is required, 1 of which must be from the course content (texts or presentations). Outside sources must be current (published within the last 5 years). (CLO: A, D, E, F, H, K)

Quizzes (8)

The student will complete eight quizzes, one in each Module: Week, covering the textbook material. Each quiz will contain 20 multiple-choice questions as well as one essay question. Quizzes will be open book/open notes, and have a 1 hour time limit. (CLO: A, B, D, E, F, G, H)

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