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Resilience to traumatic incidents programme for police constables: A feasibility study

Riella, Paula-Jane

Resilience to traumatic incidents programme for police constables: A feasibility study Thumbnail


Paula-Jane Riella


A range of potentially traumatic horrific, threatening or dangerous critical incidents can be encountered by police officers. (Arnetz, Nevedal, Lumley, Backman, & Lublin, 2008). In U.K policing, reactive approaches to deal with traumatic exposure is the norm. However, the impact of these incidents is not ameliorate by debriefings and other short-term interventions (Violanti, 2006). Whilst trauma-focused therapies are available, the complex nature of the trauma history and co-morbidity of conditions presented by police officers, often result in a lengthy treatment process and period of recovery. Some officers may never return to frontline duties due to the severity of the psychological impact.

In recent years, there has been interest in developing trauma resilience for high-risk cohorts. However, none have been implemented in a U.K police service. The author has developed the Resilience to Traumatic Incidents (ReTraIn) Programme for frontline police, which has been adapted from efficacious interventions (Arnetz, Lumley, Pole, Blessman, & Arble, 2010; Manzella and Papazoglou, 2014). The aim of the Programme is to reduce unpredictability of an incident through imaginal exposure and build resilience to identified predictors of PTSD through an increase of engagement coping strategies.

The Programme was delivered to 45 frontline officers. Twenty-seven officers completed outcome measures 12 months following the intervention, and after 18 months eight officers attended acceptability interviews. The outcomes of the study were positive, although they must be considered tentative until replicated by a larger scale study. Since attending ReTraIn, participants used more engagement coping strategies (problem-focused), and felt more psychologically prepared to cope with traumatic incidents. There was an observed association between psychological preparedness and a decrease in disengagement coping strategies. A positive association between disengagement coping and trauma symptomology supported the literature. Further, a non-significant reduction was observed in trauma symptomology.

The findings of the feasibility study has suggested the acceptability of the ReTraInProgramme and has indicated tentative benefits which merit further research. Research into the efficacy of ReTraIn has positive implications for front-line police officers as well as the demand on psychological services and counselling psychologists who work in this area.


Riella, P. Resilience to traumatic incidents programme for police constables: A feasibility study. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date Aug 21, 2020
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