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Goal, Method, and Signature (From Treating Police Stress: The Work and the Words of Peer Counselors, P 98-108, 2002, John M. Madonna, Jr. and Richard E. Kelly, -- See NCJ-197081)

NCJ Number
John Madonna
Date Published
11 pages
Based on interviews with members of the Worcester Police Department's Stress Unit (Massachusetts), a peer-staffed unit that provides intervention for officers involved in stressful situations and mental states, this chapter presents an overview of the intervention goals, methods, and distinctive styles of various stress unit members.
One of the intervention goals of stress unit members is to soften the defensiveness that many police officers use to avoid dealing with their personal problems, particularly addictions and family problems. The distinctive style of one of the members of the unit is to obsessively guard the confidentiality of his interactions and conversations with officers with whom he intervenes. Within this atmosphere and assurance of confidentiality, the unit member can gain the trust of the officer and encourage him/her to reveal any and every feeling, behavior, and circumstance that is giving them problems. If possible, a plan for addressing the problems revealed is developed without the intervention of a mental health professional, but if not, a referral is made. The stress unit is also responsible for preventing the emergence of stress-related problems among officers by assisting in the development of an organizational climate that will mitigate stress. The unit guides the department in effectively preparing an officer emotionally to deal with situations that have the potential to induce severe levels of stress. In the Worcester Police Department, this is done by exposing officers to simulated dramatic situations that precipitate in officers the feelings associated with role and circumstance. This prepares officers to be less surprised by the emotions they will experience in real-life situations. In a counseling setting, one of the stress unit members emphasizes the importance of a feeling of comfort and acceptance in the interaction, such that trust and credibility make possible the revelation and restructuring of the officer's problems and reactions.


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