The experiences of police officers exposed to daily trauma as a course of their employment: A phenomenological study.



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Although the dangers and risk police officers face while working are well documented in literature, little is understood about their experiences and how they personally self-soothe to build resiliency to the critical situations they experience. A dearth of literature exists regarding qualitative studies which have permeated American police culture in order to explore experiences of officers through their own lived experiences. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe individual experiences of police officers who are exposed to trauma as part of their routine course of employment. Social-cognitive processing theory was used as a framework because it holds that there is an interplay between personal individual experiences and the environment (Brewin & Holmes, 2003). The interplay between personal individual processes and social environment can encourage or discourage willingness to talk about trauma and stress, which can influence adjustment and processing of experiences. Interview questions for police officer participants were formulated to explore their individual experiences and coping behaviors. Data analysis concluded with the following themes as a result of interviews: (a) altruism, (b) compartmentalization, (c) distraction, (d) exposure to violence, (e) high stress, (f) mental health professionals’ lack of familiarity with police officer experiences, (g) lack of emotional preparation, (h) mistrust toward seeking professional mental health help, (i) police officer persona, (j) rationalization, and (k) social support.



Police officers, Coping behaviors, Phenomenology, Qualitative