Applying Resilience Promotion Training Among Special Forces Police Officers



Applying Resilience Promotion Training Among Special Forces Police Officers

Published on: 01-05-2015

Police Special Forces (a.k.a. special weapons and tactics [SWAT]) officers are tasked with responding to the most critical situations, including incidents that require specialized skills and equipment beyond typical policing activities. In this study, we tested the feasibility of applying Arnetz and colleagues’ resilience promotion training that was developed for patrol officers to SWAT team officers (n = 18). The resilience promotion training program included psychoeducation focused on police stress and resilience, and the practice of resilience promotion techniques (controlled breathing and imagery) while listening to  audio-recorded  critical  incident  scenarios.  The  aims  of  this  study  were  to  (a)  examine  if  a  resilience  training  program  was  relevant  and  accepted  by  SWAT  team  officers  and  (b)  assess  participants’  physiological  stress  responses  (heart  rate,  respiration)  during  the  resilience  training  sessions  to  note  if  there  were  improvements  in  stress  responding  over  time.  Our findings revealed that participants were able to significantly reduce their average heart rate and improve their ability to engage in controlled respiration (i.e., breathing) during simulated critical incidents over the course of the 5-day training. Improvements in stress responding were observed even when the critical incident scenarios became more graphic. Results suggest that an intervention to reduce stress responses of SWAT officers to critical incident scenarios works in a simulated training setting. Translation of these findings to real-world occupational hazards is a recommended next step.

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