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Program Building from a Peer's Eye View (From Treating Police Stress: The Work and the Words of Peer Counselors, P 225-231, 2002, John M. Madonna, Jr. and Richard E. Kelly, -- See NCJ-197081)

NCJ Number
Richard Kelly
Date Published
7 pages
Based on interviews with members of police department peer stress units, this chapter provides guidance on the development of a stress unit.
The most consistent theme was training. Almost every peer and administrator interviewed believed that stress awareness training at every level possible (recruit, in-service, supervisors, and families) was critical for effective program operations. Training is the vehicle for making stress unit services more likely to be used and effective. Training also facilitates effective personal stress management and prevention. Another theme emphasized by the interviewees was the importance of confidentiality. Program success is dependent on the client's belief that feelings and problems shared with members of the stress unit will not be made known to anyone inside or outside the department. For an agency considering the development of a program, the first issue that must be addressed is the scope of services. The units represented by those interviewed provide services that include personal peer counseling, preliminary evaluation, referral, critical incident treatment, training, consultation to management on stress-related issues, treatment follow-up, crisis intervention, and bereavement support. Once the decisions about program scope have been made, the next step will almost always include the selection of personnel for the unit. Some of the criteria mentioned for peer assessment are maturity, training and education, life and police experience, peer credibility, willingness to extend oneself, good listening skills, good verbal skills, and calmness in the midst of panic. Diversity representative of the department should be a goal. Administrative support from within the department is crucial, as is the development of cooperation from community mental health and other treatment resources.