Archive for the ‘Mastering Resilience’ Category

Police Psychology | Living Through Troubled Times

by Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D. (adapted with permission from

Author of I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know

These are troubled times for police officers and their families. There’s an almost endless stream of bad press about law enforcement along with the unthinkable assassinations of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, numerous anti-police protests, lethal mass shootings, and the increased threat of terrorism. Dash cams, body cameras and cell phone cameras have charged the atmosphere and changed the way officers work. In light of all that is happening, the job looks more dangerous and appears more brutal than ever.

I’ve been counseling police officers and their families for thirty years, through good times and bad. These ideas offered are my way to say thank you to police families everywhere. (more…)

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I am trying something new this Friday with a video post.  Let me know what you think.


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Police Psychology | Critical Incidents in Law Enforcement

by Doug Gentz, Ph.D.  Guest Author

Unusual and sometimes disturbing experiences are just part of the job of a Police Officer. As they proceed through their careers, officers typically take these experiences in stride. At some point, an officer may have 07Critical Incidentan experience that rises to the level of a Critical Incident. Two factors must be present to qualify an experience as a Critical Incident. The first is involvement in a sudden, unexpected, very unusual, life threatening event. The second is that the involvement in that event triggers a need for a much greater than “normal” degree of psychological adjustment on the part of the officer.

In a true Critical Incident, the involved officer has to work harder and longer than usual to digest the experience.  A partial list of events that may (or may not) trigger a  Critical Incident include Officer Involved Shootings, horrific car wrecks, and grotesque crime scenes especially those involving children. While the events  are relatively easy to describe, the factors that  underlie the “degree of adjustment required” are  much more difficult to define. There are a multitude of examples of events shared by several officers that become a Critical Incident for one or two officers and not others. What makes the same event a Critical Incident for one officer while another officer experiences it as just unusual, perhaps noteworthy? (more…)

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Police Psychology |

Anticipatory Anxiety Meets String Tricks

Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP


My 9-year old daughter was in a third-grade talent show last Friday.  She was doing “string tricks” she learned on YouTube, you know anxiety, Police Psychologystarting with Cat’s Cradle, go to Cat’s Whiskers, Jacob’s Ladder, the Eiffel Tower, the witches broom, etc.  Okay, I have to admit I went “HUH?  What kind of talent is that?”  Not out loud of course, but to myself.  I was scared to death for her and pictured Alicia Keys on stage before her and Yo-Yo Ma after she performed, with her “string tricks” saddled in between   What an embarrassment for her!   I calmed myself down with saying it will be over in 2 minutes, and I am a psychologist, I will put her broken ego back together when it is over.  She will learn something from this.

“My name is Skylar and I am going to do string tricks I learned from videos on YouTube.”  We rehearsed her over and over.  I even filmed it to make her want to practice.  Practice for embarrassment, what a lousy deal.  My wife and I both went to the show with trepidation.  My butterflies were churning worse than when I sang my first professional opera.  Act after act came out and performed admirably, except they were third graders not Alicia Keys, and they stumbled over themselves, sang off-pitch and one kid kept hitting himself in the head with nun-chucks.  I felt better already, but then Skylar was announced.  “My Name is Skylar and I am going to do some string tricks I learned from videos on YouTube.”  She was so loud and clear and the only kid that actually talked.  OMG, she has stage presence!  She had the confidence of a kid that knew she had the best act in the show.  She started with Cat’s Whiskers then put them up to her face and meowed, and the crowd erupted into outrageous applause for each of her tricks.  A star was born, and a dad learned a lot about his own profession that night.   String tricks: police psychology, perhaps I had better explain…. (more…)

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Police Psychology | Rising from the Chains of Addiction

Guest Blogger — Law Enforcement Officer’s Child

(name redacted for potential of negative future consequences)


The Little Blue Pill.  An instrument of healing that leads to drowning.  My first experience with Oxycontin was gleefully numbing and chemically satisfying.  It served its purpose: diverting pain until the next dose.  Small yet powerful, the little blue pill led to a life of murdered motivation, crippling dependence and cunning denial.  oxycontin, police psychologyConsumption induces euphoria, sedation, itchiness and drowsiness so the bottle says, yet the side-effects not listed on the bottle are much farther-reaching.  These slow assassins can be bought on the street or delightfully delivered by a pharmacist. I spent time, money, energy and shed my dreams in favor of the twisted comfort of Oxycontin.  Addiction is a physical and mental manifestation of chemical dependence, which may well lead to a vicious cycle of denial and self-destruction.  My progression was slow, until it wasn’t.  Lying to myself and others was the first step down the dark corridor of addiction.  Then came the cheating, stealing and desperation.  My story is one of despair and rapid deterioration.

The problems in my life stacked up high. I couldn’t face challenges in my relationships, platonic or romantic, I couldn’t find the motivation to chase my dreams, I couldn’t see the slow decline in my health and most of all I couldn’t see a way out.  Opiates had taken the wheel.  I was driving on autopilot deeper into a slow and lonely existence.  I am the son of a corrections officer and they had a psychological service that saw all law enforcement families.  Eventually, I agreed to see a psychologist to get my family off my back.  He called himself a police psychologist. (more…)

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