Law Enforcement and Stress
Law enforcement and stress seem to be a forgone conclusion for many people – often writing it off as a normal part of the job. But for many peace officers, fire and rescue and other first responders the events they deal with on a regular basis are anything but normal. Some events are outright traumatic and often, they experience many of these over the course of their service.
“Trauma” refers to the body or mind being overwhelmed by traumatic events. Psychological trauma in particular occurs as a result of a distressing event that leads the sufferer to question their beliefs while destroying their assumptions of trust. If you have experienced a traumatic event, you may feel socially disconnected and somewhat numb, leading to feelings of isolation. On top of this, you may find yourself feeling more afraid and vulnerable than before the event.
Law enforcement has been universally recognized as a stressful profession. Police officers often observe, deal with, or become involved in extremely difficult situations and experiences on a daily basis. A line-of-duty death (LODD) strikingly brings home the risk and vulnerability of all law enforcement officers and affects the officer’s peers, the entire department, the wider police community, and the officer’s family.
These events are inherent to the law enforcement profession and accumulate over time, often producing a cumulative stress that is immeasurable. Men and women who choose law enforcement as a profession are told to prepare to deal with the cumulative stress of the job. When it comes to law enforcement and stress, there is however another form of stress that many officers will face but are unprepared to deal with. This stress is more immediate and intense and is often the result of a singular traumatic event. It can be unsettling to learn just how severely a single event can change a person’s outlook and approach to both his profession and his daily life.
Sense of Invulnerability
The sense of invulnerability is perpetuated in the field training an officer receives once he/she begins working in his/her respective department. New recruits learn from senior officers that police work requires the inhibition of affective or emotive responses. When an officer arrives to the scene of a fatality, they are required to remain emotionless – and manage the situation. Even when confronted with a death of a child, they are expected to push aside any emotional response and immediately take control of the scene and provide order and a sense of safety to the community. Learning to suppress normal human reactions in the face of a crisis is a part of the job. But suppressing them indefinitely, long after the crisis has passed, is destructive to even the strongest of us.
My mission is to provide a professional, confidential and secure platform which is highly responsive to the trauma faced by peace officers and other first responders. Law enforcement and stress are eternally linked – it’s unavoidable and the nature of the profession. Sometimes we need to work problems out in a safe space away from even family and friends. Please allow me to demonstrate to you that the therapy offered here genuinely helps you the police officer to become empowered to feel back in control of your life.
We only get a short time on this planet, but when trauma or personal challenges become overwhelming we can lose sight of life’s pleasure. Through new perspectives, let me help you to ‘Help Yourself’ get back to enjoying life!
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Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.