Trauma in the South African Police Service: a psycho-social therapeutic program
Boshoff, Pieter John
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The overarching objective of this study was to develop and empirically evaluate a Psycho-social Therapeutic Program (PTP), empowering police officials to deal with the possible exposure to traumatic events. This thesis comprised five sections: Section A contains the problem statement, research objectives and the procedures that were followed. Furthermore the limitations of this study were discussed, the definitions of key words were given and an exposition was given of the composition of the research report. The problem statement can be condensed as follows: The large and growing number of police officials exposed and affected by trauma makes knowledge concerning their needs essential so as to provide effective interventions. A better understanding of the psychological and social needs of police officials exposed to traumatic events is essential. Responses to police officials affected by trauma should address their needs. Program development must be done in response to police official’s needs via their active participation in the entire process. The problem statement led to five research objectives. Both the exploratory sequential as well as the concurrent convergent strategy was used in this study and was implemented with a mixed method design model. Focus group interviews and questionnaires were used to collect qualitative and quantitative data simultaneously. Literature studies were conducted on the themes trauma, the needs of police officials, trauma intervention approaches and group work programs. Section B consists of six articles that together formed the report on the research outcomes. Each article was a report on a particular sub-project of the research and had, as a self-contained unit, an own research aim, research method and report. Each article was linked to the central aim, the objecties and the content of the umbrella research project. The six articles were: Article 1: Trauma in the South African Police Service In this article a literature overview was done on the concept trauma, the factors leading to trauma, the impact, consequences and coping strategies. All of the above aspects should be included in the assessment and intervention processes, in an attempt to fully understand the psycho-social functioning of the traumatised police official. Article 2: Exploring programs to support police officials exposed to trauma The objective of this article was to critically appraise existing trauma intervention approaches to better understand, compare and extrapolate key elements of these approaches, and to reconfigure them for possible inclusion into a comprehensive holistic psycho-social therapeutic program for use among the police in South Africa. Article 3: An assessment of the needs of police officials regarding trauma and trauma intervention programs – A Qualitative approach The researcher did an indepth exploratory analyses and discussion regarding the needs of police officials attached to the specialised units in the North-West Province who are exposed to or affected by trauma. Various basic and developmental needs of police officials were discussed as well as specific needs they may experience when they are exposed to traumatic events. A total of 40 police officials stationed at the identified specialist units, representing three of the bigger police clusters in the North-West Province were included in three focus groups as part of data collection. Article 4: An assessment of the needs of police officials regarding trauma and trauma intervention programs: A Quantitative approach Subsequently the findings of the second quantitative phase of the study, namely the questionnaire survey have been discussed. The findings have been structured according to the themes of the qualitative study and included as constructs in a self-developed questionnaire. The aim of the second quantitative phase of the study was to quantitatively verify the opinions and experiences of those police officials who participated in the three focus groups. A total of 332 police officials representing the specialised units in the North-West Province completed the questionnaire. Article 5: A Psycho-social Therapeutic Program (PTP) for police officials attached to the specialised units within the South African Police Service A psycho-social therapeutic program was developed, preparing police officials for the possible exposure to trauma and empowering them with skills to be able to deal with the impact of exposure. A needs assessment was done on a large number of police officials representing the specialised police units within the North-West Province affected by trauma. The selection of police officials for this program, as well as guidelines for group work with police officials, were discussed. This article focused mainly on the themes and contents of the designed psycho-social therapeutic program. Article 6: Implementation and evaluation of the Psycho-social Therapeutic Program (PTP) The program was implemented including 28 police officials stationed at the Public Order Policing Unit in Potchefstroom. A total of 13 police officials have been included in an experimental group and 15 police officials in the comparison group. The Critical Incident History Questionnaire (CIHQ), Impact of Event Scale –Revised (IES-R), the Mental Health Continuum Short Form (MHC-SF) and the Post Traumatic Cognitions Inventory (PTCI) were used as quantitative measuring instruments at two occasions with both groups. The experimental group was also qualitatively and quantitatively evaluated by means of a self-developed questionnaire. Section C: provided a summary of the findings and conclusions of the research report in total and some recommendations are provided. Section D: consisted of varous addenda, such as questionnaires and measuring instruments that were used. Section E: contained an integrated bibliography.
- Humanities