Public safety employees make many personal sacrifices to serve the community and our country.
Our staff is dedicated to provide the support they deserve to cope with the psychological trauma & stress that they sustain from their service.
- The #1 cause of death of police officers is suicide
- The #2 cause of death of police officers is felonious assaults
- The #3 cause of death of police officers is traffic collisions
- The number of police officers that are killed by their own hands is 2 to 3 times the number killed in felonious assults
- That figure is 10 times higher for retirees
Why See a Police Psychologist Vs. an EAP or Other General Mental Health Clinician?
Psychological services to police employees are unique. Police psychologists are informed about the laws and guidelines that are pertinent to making decisions and providing appropriate intervention services for law enforcement personnel.
Police psychologists are familiar with organizational dynamics and police culture, which allows them to be more effective in providing trainings and psychotherapy, as well as understanding the working conditions and stressors unique to their ranks and various assignments.
Police psychologists are trained to handle ethical problems such as issues around confidentiality, dual relationships, and conflicts between the ethical standards of the psychologists and the needs to the agency.
When an officer suffers from trauma, his or her family also suffers. Shift work, public scrutiny, long hours, and the danger of police work can have disruptive consequences for police families.
Researchers have found that family members can experience vicarious or secondary trauma that mimics Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Artwohl & Christensen, 1997; Batten et al., 2009; Kirschman 2007; Reehr, 2005). To address these issues, we offer trainings for police families that can be done with family orientations, workshops, and even on a crisis intervention basis as needed.
Our office provides therapy for law enforcement couples and families. Therapists who understand organizational stressors, police culture, and the unique manifestations of trauma in police officers are especially helpful to police families.
Early intervention is essential for preventing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Psychological first aid, critical incident stress debriefings, and cognitive behavioral therapy have been found to be effective methods for early interventions (Litz, 2004). There has been some controversy in the critical incident stress debriefing studies, but there is wide agreement that psychological assistance that is provided during the acute phase after a critical incident can be valuable (Best, Artwohl, & Kirschman, 2010).
The critical incident stress debriefing has been called into question, when some individuals stated that they felt “forced” to discuss their feelings when they were not ready yet, and/or felt uncomfortable discussing personal reactions in a group setting. These findings inspired a move towards psychological first aid, where the focus now is on taking care of the officer, with careful consideration of their personal needs at that particular time. There is also follow up contact as needed, since delayed emotional reactions are not uncommon after critical incidents.
Our staff carefully follows recent trends and research to ensure the best quality of psychological services to our clients.
Alcohol and Substance Abuse
The unfortunate consequence of alcohol and prescription medication use to self-medicate pain is that the underlying trauma is not treated, and another, new separate problem emerges.
We provide individual and group therapy for first responders who are dealing with substance abuse issues. Alcohol abuse, in particular is a very common coping strategy that officers use to quell the anxiety and depressive symptoms that come as a result of exposure to cumulative as well as critical incident stress. Research has revealed that there is a significant correlation between the development of substance abuse disorders and trauma (Follette, et. al., 1998).
The negative consequences of substance abuse in policing are obvious. Police work requires fast reflexes and quick thinking. Excessive alcohol consumption and hangover effects can impede reaction time, cause slower cognitive and motor processing, and even lead to aggressive behavior, particularly in the presence of threat (Lemon et al., 1993).
Regular 12 step/Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are met with resistance by many officers. Officers complain that these meetings are frequently comprised of people who are on parole, probation, and/or have negative feelings towards police officers. Since group support and cohesion is essential to this form of treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous for the general public has not been as effective for police officers. Because Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs have been found to be highly effective, our staff is dedicated to finding meetings limited to first responders only.
Our office currently works with a former fire fighter who runs a 12 step program for first responders. These meetings are held in Long Beach, California. Please call our office for more information on this and other specialized 12 step meetings.
Peer Support, or Trauma Support Teams are of great value to police agencies. Many officer feel more comfortable talking to their peers.
Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Our office provides Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. Both are powerful treatment tools for PTSD.