Exploring a psychological trauma management programme at a police station in the Gauteng Province
Police officials play a crucial role in preventing crime and protecting society. In the line of duty, police members are exposed to situations that are outside of normal, everyday experience. As a result they suffer from psychological trauma PT, which often leads to more serious conditions such as Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Such conditions negatively impact the wellbeing of the individual and their ability to perform well on the job, as well as the organisation. This indicates a need for effective psychological trauma management. The general objective of the present study is to explore psychological trauma management at a police station. The study also focused on establishing the meaning of PT to police members and the types of events they regard as traumatic. The study also aimed to establish how police members value the effectiveness of the current psychological trauma management programme (PTMP). The researcher used a qualitative design, with a social constructivist/interpretivist approach. Participants were recruited using nonprobability purposive sampling. The sample consisted of eleven functional members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) from a police station in the Gauteng Province. A focus group discussion was used to collect data, which was transcribed and thereafter analysed using thematic analysis. Themes and subthemes were extracted from the data and these were reported on in detail and substantiated with direct quotations. The findings indicate that police members have a good understanding of the meaning of PT and regard various events as traumatic. From the findings, it was evident that the police members experience events where they are witnesses or victims of crime as traumatic. It was found that some of the members are aware of the PTMPs offered. The police employees indicated that the PTM programmes are not effective, mainly due to lack of awareness and support from the organisation. Furthermore, it was found that the role of the service providers influences the perception of PTMPs as ineffective, mainly due to their inability to maintain confidentiality and limited knowledge. From the study it was evident that the SAPS could benefit from reviewing the current PTM programme in terms of implementation and quality of service offered by providers. The study concludes with recommendations for future research and practice.