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This chapter reviews the evidence, theories, and treatments for both occupational and traumatic stress commonly experienced by criminal justice service workers (i.e., police, corrections workers, etc). Due to the nature and structure of their work, criminal justice service workers are at a high-risk of experiencing occupational stress and/or traumatic stress, and this chapter reviews the effective treatment options to counter these stress experiences. The chapter identifies the key causes (antecedents) of both occupational and traumatic stress for criminal justice service workers, and the symptoms and consequences these experiences commonly produce. We also discuss the key theoretical explanations of these stress experiences, and issues such as vicarious trauma, moral injury and chronic stress reactions. The final section in this chapter discusses common interventions and treatments to manage these stress experiences, including: Employee Assistance Programs, Critical Incident Stress Management, peer support, psychological first-aid, the first responder toolkit, and acceptance and commitment therapy.
Traumatic stress and its impact on the human experience have been recognized across a very wide range of cultures and historical eras. Descriptions of this psychological phenomenon can be found in literature as broad as Ulysses' Odyssey to the Koran and the Bible. The extant literature on trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reviews four primary assessment methods: structured diagnostic interviews; self-report questionnaires; functional analytic clinical assessment; and psychophysio-logical assessment. The first step in assessing the impact of a potentially traumatic event is to identify the nature and specific details of the traumatic exposure, including assessing if it meets DSM-IV-TR 'traumatic event' criterion. Substance use disorders, mood disorders and other anxiety disorders are the most commonly occurring comorbid conditions with PTSD. It is important to remember that individuals with a trauma history may not be forthcoming about reporting the trauma in clinical settings.
Disaster and trauma workers often disregard their own reactions and needs when focusing on caring for those directly exposed to traumatic events. This article discusses the concept of vicarious traumatization, a form of post-traumatic stress response sometimes experienced by those who indirectly are exposed to traumatic events. It includes an examination of how vicarious trauma reactions are experienced across different professions, and suggestions on how to limit or prevent vicarious traumatization. The authors review self-care strategies as well as training and organizational considerations that may be beneficial for individuals and organizations to address.
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