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Stress Management In Law Enforcement

from: Della Franklin - Guest Contributor

Recently, especially after the 9-11 tragedy, people have begun to look at police officers and law enforcement specialists as strong individuals, rightfully earning the lofty "Finest" title. They are tough, rough, and always ready to protect and serve. Law-abiding civilians feel safer when there are police officers on regular patrol in their neighborhoods and communities, and citizens living in safe localities often carry out useful, happy, stress-free lives.

Yet, in keeping their pillar-of-strength perceptions, police officers tend to keep to themselves when it comes to their own personal trials and tribulations. They regularly deal with the worst of what society has to offer, and they make special sacrifices to maintain the peace. In the process, doing their duty slowly eats away at their own health and satisfaction in life.

To make matters worse, police officers operate on a less social manner than other public safety and emergency service workers. Paramedics and firefighters are trained to work as a group, but they do not pound the streets as police officers do. This results in police officers being spread too thinly to cover their areas of jurisdiction, often having to work alone or with one partner.

A police officer's career is marked by frequent encounters with violence and recklessness. The very ills of society that distress civilians so much also have negative effects on a police officer's psyche. As the stress of police duty builds up, the police officer may soon experience bouts of anger, depression, or disillusion. Over time, these psychological indispositions may cause strained relationships with co-workers, friends, and family, and ultimately lead to resignation, early retirement, or - worst of all - suicide. Yes, it has happened before.

Recent studies about the psychological health of police officers have taken note of these occurrences. Most often these are signs of the progression of a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD usually starts with the police officer encountering a particularly disturbing incident during police duty that he can't possibly deal with all at once. PTSD is a severe illness that grows worse with each passing year it is left untreated.

As it goes without saying that police officers have perhaps the most stressful jobs in the civilian world, they also need a measure of stress management to help them cope with the rigors of police duty. Over the years, special stress management programs have been made for police officers and other workers in law enforcement. To varying degrees, these stress management programs differ from those offered for civilians and the wage-earning population.

Stress management in law enforcement includes regular psychological therapy. Police officers may be made to undergo sessions with a therapist. These can coax the police officer to identify any woes he might have with his career and ultimately arrive at beneficial solutions. Therapy sessions aim to educate the police officer in interpreting his/her own reactions to stimuli, resulting in smarter reactions to stress.

Stress management in law enforcement also includes anger management. In anger management, police officers are taught to identify the triggers that causes aggression in them, as well as methods to contain and defuse those triggers. Anger management also teaches police officers how to detect and prevent hostile situations from ever occurring, which in turn can be applied in settling civilian disputes. Perhaps most importantly, anger management develops the police officer's emotional intelligence, allowing them to prevent and manage their stress by themselves, either on or off the clock.

Police officers who have recently gone through a particularly traumatic experience on the job, such as the death of a partner or a horribly gruesome crime scene, can be made to undergo psychotherapy. This allows them to cope with the debilitating stress that these encounters saturate them with.

Today, police precincts make it a point to have a number of full-time counselors as part of the roster. With the help of chaplains and other support workers, the presence of these counselors keeps the tension down in the work environment, allowing police officers and other workers in law enforcement to work as smoothly and normally as possible.

Being aware of the stresses that police officers and other law enforcement specialists undergo on a regular basis really puts things in perspective for the rest of us, doesn't it? Too often, being so caught up in our own petty stresses can make us forget that there are brave men and women out there who make our safety and happiness their concern. The mere knowledge of the sacrifices they make for us should be enough to let us sit back, laugh at ourselves, and be grateful for having stresses as trivial as they can possibly be.

About the Author

The Stress Management Site brings you all the latest information you need to assist you with stress management. © 2007 copyright by DSquare Marketing & Della Franklin. Also check out some of her other sites like The Dry Skin Site & Dogwood Square.

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Another one of these brilliant and very humorous animated videos. Got lots of good information anf tips on managing your stress levels despite the humorous theme!

A really helpful video here, with some practical everyday tips in relieving stress and anxiety!