Main Office:
3604 Clarkston Rd.
Clarkston, Mi 48348
Ph: 248-595-9969   Fax: 248-814-0361

The Uneasy Relationship Between Psychology and Law Enforcement

February 01, 2015

Whenever I would talk to other officers during my career as a and police officer about anything having to do with a psychologist, among the first words to come up would invariably be “shrink”, and “quack”. Those might even have been the words I used to describe the professionals who worked with officers to help the officers cope with traumatic events and get them back on the streets. It might even have been that the negative views of some of these professionals were justified but lumping all psychologists into such negative terms was certainly unfair.

Many years have gone by since my first encounter with the police psychologist who judged me to be safe to carry a gun and enforce the laws in the city that ultimately hired me. I remember the day where I went to the office and took the tests, one of which was an ink blot test, the other a several hundred question true or false test. I had an opportunity to meet that psychologist recently and he claimed to remember me–I wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing.

I had told the interview board that I wanted to be a police officer because I wanted to help people, and I probably told the psychologist the same thing. My parents raised me to be law abiding, tell the truth, and to basically be a decent person. I think those were the traits that helped get me hired for that job. In my research, I found that most officers come from a background similar to mine, and learn similar morals, and join police departments because it is an opportunity to be the ultimate Boy Scout—in other words, to do good deeds. A problem with this way of thinking is that not every situation fits into the ideals of what Welcome we learned to be right and wrong. The black and white way we might have had of knowing what was right and wrong no longer seems to be enough and we get forced to re-evaluate what we think and believe. For some, this can be a difficult thing to do.

The black and white way of seeing things can become both a strength that helps us cope as well as a weakness that prevents us from being able to take in and adjust to new information. Adjusting all of our beliefs to accommodate the gray areas can be equally challenging as it leaves us without a sense of stability. Assuming there is a solid support system in to place where we can freely discuss these concerns, the opportunity exists to talk and understand things differently—this is especially important cheap jerseys in times of stress or following exposure to trauma.

Not much of what we learned in the police academy prepares us for the things we see on the job is over the course of our careers. From the blood covered crime scenes following fights or assaults, to ones where there was abuse, rape, or murder, Haptik all of these things have an effect on the officer. Not to mention the death notifications or investigations, and the resulting grief of the family and demands for justice—the cumulative effects of these traumas can have a way of weighing down wholesale nba jerseys the officer, who probably tells his/her co-workers that everything is fine (we learn that is what we are supposed to say early on in our careers). For the departments where officers are encouraged to discuss these troubling thoughts and experiences, the officer likely recovers without much impact; but for the ones where the implicit message is that you do the job and not show emotions or let things bother you, those officers carry a heavy burden.

The sense of isolation is the biggest problem. Officers want to wholesale jerseys shield their families from the horrors of the job, and do not want to cause undue worry from their spouses, and the thinking is often that non-police friends would not understand. The option left is talking to fellow cheap jerseys officers as the only option—except that many times we learn that we are not supposed to do that, that je we are supposed to “just deal with it”. At the end of the day, the officer perceives that he/she has no one to turn to.

Mental health professionals are often a last resort kind of option. Maybe out of not knowing what to expect, thinking that the therapist has a direct line to cheap jerseys the chief and can cause problems with the officer’s career, or maybe because they just think the therapist will not understand—no matter what the reason, most officers are reluctant to seek out mental health professionals.

This is where my experience as both a police officer as well as a psychologist is my biggest asset. Not only did I serve in a variety of capacities (road patrol, undercover narcotics, road patrol command, Conflict and detective in charge of violent crimes), but I also experienced nearly the full range of what an officer can Adversity see during a career. Many of these experiences served as the basis for my doctoral research, the article that is listed on this site, and the book I worked on dealing with police shootings.

These experiences have allowed me to have a pretty good grasp of what police officers (and, to a degree, other first responders) are dealing with and what might be causing them problems. My training in EMDR also allows me to help them work through those traumatic experiences more efficiently than other traditional forms of therapy might allow. If you are struggling to deal with traumas you experienced either on the road or away from the job, give me a call. Finding someone who understands what you are going through and who can help you deal with it is important—maybe you can start feeling better again.


About the Author
I have been affiliated with the first responder community for the past 25 years and I am a volunteer member of the Oakland County Critical Response Organization (OCCRO) team. You can read my full profile/bio here!