Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Dorothy Scotten


AbstractPolice officers experience trauma in their roles as first responders. Although there are resources to address the psychological and physical impact on police officers, these resources are underutilized. Police officers in active duty endure traumatic events regularly but fail to seek assistance for their physical and mental health symptoms. Officers interact with individuals from multiple disciplines throughout their daily encounters, including social workers. Despite the professional relationship between officers and social workers, some officers remain guarded and minimize their mental health needs. For this project, a focus group was conducted with 9 social workers who have worked with police officers during a critical incident stress management debriefing following a traumatic incident. The social workers shared their perceptions of encounters with police officers, specifically regarding officers’ exposure to trauma and the conversation around mental health treatment. Social cognitive theory was discussed in the action research project. A qualitative research method was used to facilitate the action research project. According to the data collected from the social workers, they believe officers are influenced by stigma, a lack of training, denial, and fear. The results will be presented to local police departments to illustrate the impact and exposure of daily trauma on police officers and discuss possible solutions. The findings may be used to initiate positive social changes within the law enforcement field that normalize and increase access to mental health treatment.