Date of Award

Spring 2-25-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Phil Pendley

Second Advisor

Dr. General Davie

Third Advisor

Dr. Obed Magny

Abstract

The intent of this study was to elicit perspectives from law enforcement counselors, clinicians, chaplains, and peer group leaders for factors affecting law enforcement officer’s (LEOs) seeking mental health assistance. The law enforcement and mental health communities have gone to great lengths to ensure assistance is available to LEOs in an effort to counter the stress and trauma associated with the policing profession. Past studies attempted to elicit LEOs attitudes on mental health services, generating mixed results and were unable to establish why available services were underutilized. This study employed a qualitative methodology to elicit perspectives on this phenomena from Northern California based law enforcement clinicians, counselors, chaplains and peer group leaders. To date, very little research has centered on the counselor’s viewpoint in order to investigate their lived experiences while assisting the subculture of LEOs. Using R. Lazarus’s (1983) theory of stress and coping as well as Ajzen’s (1991) theory of planned behavior as the foundations of this study and incorporating Zola’s (1973) help-seeking behavioral model, themes emerged regarding the perceived factors affecting LEOs decision to seek assistance. The rich narratives of these dedicated professionals, both the law enforcement and mental health communities could use these insights to create or enhance mental health services for LEOs to meet evolving societal demands. In addition, more research needs to be conducted to identify factors affecting mental health seeking behaviors in other trauma sensitive professions, such as firefighters and soldiers, to identify prevailing themes these professions may share.