Certain individuals, such as police officers, are exposed to traumatic events as part of the occupational roles they fulfill. In order to prevent psychological illnesses; namely the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that results from work-related traumatic incidents, psychological interventions have been developed such as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. The aim of the study was to explore the experiences and the perceptions of police members stationed at the South African Police Service (SAPS) Head Office in Pretoria, regarding the effectiveness of Trauma Debriefing within the SAPS environment. The researcher was motivated to choose this subject as a result of the challenges he faced while working as a Psychometrist and a Debriefer within the SAPS. Furthermore, the lack of research and literature studies concerning the effectiveness of trauma debriefing motivated the researcher to conduct the study. The qualitative approach was utilized in this study, and interviews were used to gather data about the experiences and perceptions of police members regarding the effectiveness of trauma debriefing. Utilizing an interview schedule, the researcher interviewed 10 respondents who were functional members of the SAPS. A systematic sampling method was used to select suitable respondents for the study. The type of research used was that of applied research, as the intention was to answer practical questions about the effectiveness of trauma debriefing within the SAPS. The exploratory design was utilized in this study, since there was limited information about the experiences and perceptions of police members in existence. The purpose of using this design was thus to explore the perceptions and experiences of police members regarding the effectiveness of trauma debriefing in order to provide new information about the topic. The researcher believes that this research will provoke some thought about new scientific research into this field of study. A discussion on the theoretical overview on trauma debriefing focused on the goals and theories of debriefing. In addition, a theoretical overview of the debriefing model adopted by the SAPS, the benefits of debriefing, the diagnostic criteria for PTSD and critical perspectives with regard to the effectiveness of trauma debriefing. The research findings indicated that trauma debriefing has been viewed and experienced by most respondents as good. Most police members perceived trauma debriefing as effective. Furthermore, police members perceived trauma debriefing as management=s support. The research findings however also indicated that trauma debriefing should be pro-active rather than reactive. Some respondents felt that debriefing should include an element of monitoring members, in order to check their progress. In addition, the study showed that there is a lack of follow-up services to debriefing cases attended.
Dissertation (MSoc.Sci (Employee Assistance Programme))--University of Pretoria, 2006.