The social construction of the meaning of acute stressors: A qualitative study of the personal accounts of police officers using a stress counselling service

P. Dick

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    54 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The police profession is one in which acute stressors are encountered more frequently than in other occupations. Using the personal accounts of 35 police officers attending an in-house stress counselling clinic, the aim of the present study was to provide a qualitative examination of how the institutional context of policing influenced the ways in which acute stressors signified to individual police officers experiencing felt distress. Using the framework of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy as an analytical tool, it is argued that beliefs contributing to the experience of felt distress are related to the way in which policing as both an identity and an activity is constructed through the police organizational culture. Not only do these constructions influence the ways in which officers perceive themselves and their environments, but they also operate at the collective level to 'normalize' some emotional responses and to 'pathologize' others which, it is argued, could impact upon the outcomes of interventions such as stress counselling.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)226-244
    Number of pages19
    JournalWork and Stress
    Volume14
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2000

    Keywords

    • Acute stressors
    • Occupational stress
    • Organizational stress
    • Police
    • Social construction
    • Stress
    • Subjective meaning

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