What Modern Therapists Should Know About Law Enforcement Mental Health: An Interview with Cyndi Doyle, LPC
Curt and Katie interview Cyndi Doyle on the mental health of law enforcement officers. We look at how being a cop impacts their mental health as well as specific incidents and the chronic desensitization. We also explore the feelings in law enforcement related to calls to defund the police and how society views the cops. Content warning: potentially traumatic incidents (violence, death)
Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.
Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.
An Interview with Cyndi Doyle, LPC
Cyndi Doyle is a Licensed Professional Counselor, group practice co-owner, founder of Code4Couples, podcaster, and author of Hold the Line: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Law Enforcement Relationship. She has spoken nationally and internationally including at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conferences (IACP), the FBI National Academy Association (FBINAA) Conference, keynoted at police spouse conferences throughout the country, and at trained various police departments. While much of her work focuses on first responders, Cyndi’s stories of embracing and wrestling with living her own bold and authentic life have resulted in her being a sought-after speaker for other mental health professionals. Her message of humanizing struggle, compassion, courage, and resilience has resulted in her speaking nationally and even keynoting at the 2020 Texas Counseling Association Professional Growth Conference. That same year, the American Counseling Association awarded her the Samuel Gladding Unsung Heroes Award for her work with first responders and contribution to the field of counseling.
In this podcast episode, we talk about Law Enforcement Mental Health
We reached out to our friend, Cyndi Doyle to explore a population of folks who we typically don’t think about as our patients: Law Enforcement Officers (LEO).
What should modern therapists know about the mental health of Law Enforcement Officers and their families?
“[Law Enforcement Officers] don’t feel safe, not just their physical safety, but emotional safety. Many times, they don’t feel supported by their communities. They don’t feel supported by their departments, by their administration. …Would you really want to go to a job every day where you were potentially hated?” – Cyndi Doyle, LPC
- Different dynamics than typical couples
- The definition of cynicism
- How training impacts the mental health of officers
- Misinterpretation of control versus abuse
- Over diagnosis of trauma
The negative impacts on police officers of the heightened scrutiny and criticism
- Hypervigilance and the impact of cameras on police offers performing their jobs
- The lack of support from the community (or the legislators or even law enforcement leadership) for officers
- Lack of compassion satisfaction, considering quitting their job, PTSD
- The impact on Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) families
Exploration of the calls to defund the police and fund other resources
“You’ll see the cellphone videos or the videos out there of officers playing basketball or playing football or engaging with the community. And that’s what community policing is. Community policing is the idea of I know my community well enough to know who potentially has a mental health situation that I need to be aware of.” – Cyndi Doyle, LPC
- Looking at the law enforcement response to defunding the police
- Exploring community policing and how that could help decrease abuses
- The cultural shifts and education happening at police departments
- The potential for mental health resources being added to policing
- When staffing is down, there is less time to recuperate and be prepared for work
Mental Health Concerns that bring law enforcement officers and their families into therapy
“Sometimes we assume, I think, as clinicians that like oh, that would be traumatic for me to see. When in actuality [cops] have seen it so often that there’s a desensitization. Now, does the desensitization impact to them? Sure. It also doesn’t mean that every situation is traumatic to them. That unfortunately, once you’ve seen something or done something time and time again, it cannot impact you the same way.” – Cyndi Doyle, LPC
- Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Addiction
- Relationships, family and couple
- Incident, critical incident, trauma
- Desensitization to violent incidents, injuries, and death
- The personalization in incidents that can cause more of a trauma response
- The insufficient training to build resilience for law enforcement officers
- The shifting culture that is now recognizing mental health as health, but the ongoing stigma for seeking support
Cynicism, lack of empathy, and bias in Law Enforcement
- The mindset that narrows down to “everyone” behaves
- Working to make officers more human, so they can see more good in the world
- The importance of supporting the resilience and empathy within LEO (while recognizing that some of these things are not helpful “on the job”)
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Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:
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Code 4 Couples
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Who we are:
Curt Widhalm, LMFT
Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com
Katie Vernoy, LMFT
Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com
A Quick Note:
Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.
Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.
Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:
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Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/
Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano https://groomsymusic.com/
Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):
Katie Vernoy 0:00
Hey modern therapists a brief content warning we’re talking about law enforcement, which includes violence and trauma.
Curt Widhalm 0:07
This episode of The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide is brought to you by Thrizer.
Katie Vernoy 0:10
Thrizer is a modern billing platform for private pay therapists. Their platform automatically gets clients reimbursed by their insurance after every session. Just by billing your clients through Thrizer you can potentially save them hundreds every month with no extra work on your end. The best part is you don’t have to give up your rates they charge a standard 3% processing fee.
Curt Widhalm 0:30
Listen at the end of the episode for more information on a special offer from Thrizer.
Katie Vernoy 0:36
This episode is also brought to you by Simplified SEO Consulting.
Curt Widhalm 0:40
Have you spent countless hours trying to get your website just right and yet it’s not showing up on Google and it doesn’t seem like anyone’s able to find it? Simplified SEO Consulting has a unique solution. They’ve been training therapists to optimize their websites, so they show up better on Google. But let’s face it with the busy schedules we all keep, it can be hard to find time to optimize your website even when you learn how. They are hosting a 16 day cruise in July 2023 going from LA to Hawaii and back. When you join them, you’ll get intensive SEO education and coaching during the 10 days at sea. Most importantly, you’ll have plenty of time to sit next to the pool and implement everything you’ve learned and then ask their team for feedback. Yes, it’s the perfect excuse for a Hawaii vacation. But it’s also time to both learn about SEO and actually implement what you learn.
Katie Vernoy 1:31
Listen at the end of the episode. For more information on Simplified SEO Consulting.
You’re listening to The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm, and Katie Vernoy.
Curt Widhalm 1:50
Welcome back modern therapists. This is The Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast for therapists about all the different clients we see, the things going on in our worlds and in case you’ve been under a rock for the last several years working in this field things have kind of looked at law enforcement in some various different ways. There’s been a lot of outcry from a lot of our socially justice minded therapists about things like where law enforcement dollars go, how they could be, you know, used for social services and a number of other things like that. And we have kind of broached the subject a little bit from time to time here. But we are joined today by Cyndi Doyle, licensed professional counselor supervisor to talk about some of the intersections of mental health and working with law enforcement and just kind of like, reminding us that they’re are people too, and that maybe having a clinical touch is kind of a good thing in these places. So thank you very much for joining us, Cyndi.
Cyndi Doyle 3:03
You are so welcome. I’m really excited to be here. Excited to have the conversations.
Katie Vernoy 3:07
We’re so excited to have you and you’re a friend of the show. So it’s great to be able to have this conversation. I think it’s an important conversation. But before we jump in, the question we ask everyone is who are you? And what are you putting out into the world?
Cyndi Doyle 3:21
That’s a big question. Because I would say I’m multifaceted. Yes, yes. So what I’m putting out into the world is I would say I’m putting ripples out into the world. That’s why I usually say because I feel like I believe like the things that I do kind of send ripples out and help people to do better things. So who I am, as far as what I’m putting out in the world is I have a group private practice in Denton, Texas. And so I have some clinicians that work for and with me, I have a company called Code for Couples, which Code for Couples is for law enforcement mental health and relationships. And the goal of that company is to help law enforcement and their spouses to stay connected and resilient. It addresses mental and emotional health. And so kind of the benefit of that is to keep law enforcement healthy and hopefully help create healthier communities. And then I also have my other side gigs as far as Cyndi Doyle and some coaching I do as far as that end. That’s all the things that I’m putting out into the world.
Katie Vernoy 4:26
That is quite a bit.
Curt Widhalm 4:28
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into working not just with first responder mental health but with law enforcement mental health as well.
Cyndi Doyle 4:37
Yeah, so it started mostly because I live it and have lived it. My husband is a police officer. He retired after 21 years, last year, last March, end of March, he retired. And I went with him through that career birth to death. So I met the guy and said What do you want to do with your life and Did the counselor thing and thought law enforcement would be great. And we were just really naive about the impact of the career, that it would have on him individually, me individually and us as a couple. And so I saw this impact. I lived the impact, it was part of my story. And as I dug in to figure out why the hecken heck wasn’t my Gottman stuff, working on my own relationship, and why is why is ours different? I realized that there was a giant hole out there as far as information. And so while I could impact people in my office, I wanted to make a larger impact and impact the community as a whole. I saw a lot of problems within law enforcement mental health wise, we saw a lot of anger, a lot of cynicism, a lot of divorces. People getting in trouble on the job, internal affairs, and it was just kind of like, what’s going on? And how can I help them? I originally thought, Oh, I’m gonna start with just first responders. And then I realized, there’s a plethora of people that are just law enforcement, and they have some unique challenges. You know, everybody loves a firefighter, pretty much people hate law enforcement, like nobody’s like, Yay, the cops are here. So that firefighters Yay. So they have some unique challenges and some unique perspectives. And so that’s why I wind up focusing on them.
Katie Vernoy 6:23
I think it’s interesting, because I, I know I’ve worked with, like a law enforcement officer once and so I know that I am not sure that I have any clear sense of of what would be the special unique issues, but I’m sure given you’re identifying the gaps and that kind of stuff that you probably have stories of therapists that have not done such a great job. So one of the questions we asked usually towards the beginning of the episode, just to help people learn is What do therapists usually get wrong when working with law enforcement professionals?
Cyndi Doyle 6:57
I think that usually what comes out wrong is the misinterpretation of cynicism would be number one. I think the not understanding hyper vigilance as it relates to law enforcement. I know I was under I was aware of hyper vigilance as it relates to trauma. When we’re working with trauma clients, but it’s different when it’s law enforcement and the impact of the biological and psychological impact of hyper vigilance, not understanding the cynicism where that comes from, I have a couple different messages that I use. One of them is officers are trained to react and not to respond. And that has to do with the conditioning that they go through on the job and in their training. Another one of my messages many times is what keeps them safe on the job negatively impacts them outside of the job. But those things don’t turn off. So it’s not, you know, many times as counselors, I think we experience this too, as mental health professionals, we come home and yes, can we quote unquote, kind of turn it off? Maybe put it to the side. But then sometimes we have those cases or those clients that just come with us? Right? I don’t know about you, but I definitely have woken up in the middle of the night about a client or a nightmare or taking on their stuff, right?
Katie Vernoy 8:16
Cyndi Doyle 8:16
And we’re trained how to kind of put that aside or to put that someplace else. In law enforcement is not. It all comes with them. So many times there’s a misinterpretation about control and seeing it as is it abuse. There is that idea of Okay. Well, I what I say to my law enforcement folks is it’s like, well, the only difference between murder one and manslaughter is intent. So the intent might not be there, there might be conditioning that causes them to be clipped, short, seem like control freaks, OCD. And there’s reasoning and underpinning for that. I think another big mistake that mental health clinicians make is assuming that everything is trauma, and everything is PTSD. The most diagnoseable condition for law enforcement is anxiety. Most of them struggle with anxiety. And so instead of jumping to conclusions and looking at everything as trauma, sometimes it’s just about the anxiety, the lack of control that they have in their lives on the job and how that spills over into their life as a whole.
Curt Widhalm 9:20
Discussions over the last couple of years and that are continuing to go on and you know, any of the news stories d’jour of law enforcement that I try to keep this episode evergreen here, just pick whatever is the most recent one that’s painting…
Cyndi Doyle 9:39
Been going on since 2015?
Curt Widhalm 9:41
I’m sure it’s gone on for hundreds of years before that, but it seems to be heightened since like 2015. And with more and more of these stories making it to the news, on the Internet, to these kinds of things. What have you seen as far as the impact on law enforcement mental health?
Cyndi Doyle 10:00
Oof. Okay, a lot. There is a you have an occupation that is already hypervigilant. They’re already aware of what they need to be doing and what’s going on around them. And that hyper vigilance helps to keep them safe. And when you add, I’m just gonna throw in cameras in their cell phone video, right? We’ll just throw that in there. When you add cellphone video, now I’ve got something running in the back of my head and going, Oh, my gosh, am I doing this right? Am I doing this perfect? Which gets in the way of being able to do the job, maybe even helping. They are more reluctant to sometimes try to engage because they’re afraid of failing, they’re afraid of being in trouble. They don’t feel safe, not just their physical safety, but emotional safety. Many times they don’t feel supported by their communities. They don’t feel supported by their departments, by their administration. And so that winds up impacting. You know, it’s that whole thing of like, Would you really want to go to a job every day where you were potentially hated? Or that you had things thrown at you, or that a because there’s a increased awareness of the potential of danger if you’re encountering law enforcement that there’s going to be some pushback. Their jobs are already hard as it is, like any situation pulling somebody over can result in death, just depending upon, you know, the situation, right. So they’re already putting themselves at danger and risk. And when we look at what’s going on, now, the big impact, a lack of compassion satisfaction. So there’s, like researched, I, this was 2019, this research study was done. And it said, four out of 10 officers that were surveyed, so 40% struggled with compassion satisfaction. I saw a recent survey of 2020. And it said, 65% of officers, either daily or weekly, think about quitting their job. So you have a situation that they’re not happy. They’re going to a job where they’re not valued and appreciated. And that is grating on anybody’s mental health, to not feel value or appreciation, it creates increased anxiety, increased depression. And then when you have the increased compassion satisfaction, or the decrease of compassion satisfaction, then you run into a greater potential of having greater impact of trauma. Because now, I don’t really make a difference, as opposed to seeing like some post traumatic growth that can come from that situation. So there’s a lot of different impacts that are happening as a part of that. And also families are being impacted. It’s not just law enforcement. It’s also spouses and kids that are making the sacrifices right along with them.
Katie Vernoy 12:57
And hearing you talk, it seems like there’s a really big problem. I can’t say it more eloquently than that. Because there’s, there’s a lot of things on the cell phone videos that are abuses, that are things that are pretty egregious and awful. And obviously, there’s been cries to defund the police or abolish the police. I mean, there’s been a lot of things where there’s a spotlight on the times when officers get it really, really wrong. And I think it’s obviously that that’s been painted across everyone. And and I think that that speaks to, you know, kind of what you’re talking about all these folks go into their jobs and being universally hated. It seems hard to kind of sort out how do we how do we actually make a difference in this? Because there’s such a huge divide. There’s such anger and frustration and reactivity and all of this stuff. And I know that that kind of out in in progressive land, we’re talking about getting rid of the whole institution to a certain level or providing other resources and trying to demilitarize the police or whatever it is. But I’m curious from the folks that you’re talking to like, what is what is the perceived solution from the law enforcement side? How do they take in all these defund the police or putting resources elsewhere, decreasing the resources to law enforcement so that other resources can be funded? I mean, how is that being taken in?
Cyndi Doyle 14:26
How is it being taken in the idea of defunding is what you’re asking?
Katie Vernoy 14:31
Yeah, defending or even just like an alternate solution, because I think people are grasping at straws because it clearly is problematic for all who are involved.
Cyndi Doyle 14:40
So let me address that first. Because I would say that I don’t think that law enforcement as a whole has a solution, except to like, there’s no like, oh, you know what, we should just do this and recreate. You know, the, the solution within law enforcement is let’s educate. For years there has been there’s different philosophies in policing. And one of those is community service policing. And so community service policing, depending upon the community, depending upon the administration, many times is a good way to interact. You’ll see the cellphone videos or the videos out there of like officers playing with playing basketball or playing football or engaging with the community. And that’s what community community policing is. Community policing is the idea of I know my community well enough to know who is potentially has a mental health situation that I need to be aware of.
Katie Vernoy 15:38
Cyndi Doyle 15:39
My husband’s department, like they knew where people lived. And they knew Okay, by the way, this is I don’t know, Steve. That’s my cat’s name, by the way. This is Steve and Steve has he, he’s going to say some things, he’s going to come at you aggressively. But that is because Steve sometimes doesn’t take his medication. And knowing those things about our communities can really help. That’s a big part of what’s happening in law enforcement, as far it’s a push for community policing. Education is what they know to do. They do have escalation of use of force. And usually, when we have situations or when there’s situations that escalate, there is a use of force policy. You know, some of this is policy. Some of this is training. Some of this is philosophy. Some of this is law enforcement, changing culture, because culture is changing there. We have younger generations that are coming up. And I had a recent podcast with my husband where I call it was called the crusty curmudgeon, because because there’s this joke within law enforcement about the crusty old guys, and how the cynicism just breeds and it causes a disconnection. There’s a lack of, hey, there’s an empathy, or what can we do? It’s a fine line between staying safe, and trying to think through what the situation may be, or how can I handle this differently. And when you have individuals that want to go home to their families, that split second, instantaneous decisions that are happening there, in the immediate moment, it’s easy to sit back and to analyze it and pick it apart. But when you’re in the moment, and you’re wanting to survive, sometimes that really overtakes some of the training that’s involved. So many times it’s repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, where you have something that winds up getting into their system. So there’s a lot of different ways to look at it. I know law enforcement is trying to address it in many different ways. They’re needing to report on many different statistics regarding the calls that they’re making regarding the interactions that they have, regarding the populations that they’re pulling over, that’s been going on for 20 years, though or at least 15. Because I know, almost the whole entire time my husband’s been in law enforcement, he was required to submit those statistics to the state, and the state had to stay on top of them. And if the if a department seemed to be skewed one way or the other, the state went in and reviewed what was happening. So there’s a lot of different ways to address it. But I would say those are kind of ways that the law enforcement community is addressing it.
Katie Vernoy 15:39
So I think that explains kind of how law enforcement is trying to improve from within. But I think there’s still this notion of defunding the police. And it’s a dramatic way to talk about shifting funds to other resources. And so I think there’s, you know, we could talk about the labeling of it and another time, but what is the response to adding resources and/or decreasing funding?
Cyndi Doyle 18:53
So, law enforcement, my experience with talking to law enforcement about that is that resources are always welcome. That if there’s going to be added resources, that’s great. So the pluses are okay, you know, what? Great, you want to go deal with that mental health person, that mental health homeless person on the street, so I don’t have to? Fan-freakin-tastic. That is fantastic. Then you have these situations where I’ve heard about mental health professionals going into like domestic violence situations. That causes concern for law enforcement, because things like domestic violence situations turn very quickly, and are actually some of the most dangerous for law enforcement. So there’s some concern about putting civilians at risk and having to go in and clean it up or go in afterwards after it’s already escalated. I think the other kind of negative really aspect of defunding is that crime doesn’t stop. And so what’s happening now is in the perception and in the defunding departments aren’t able to be staffed. And so staffing is down, law enforcement are being required to work overtime. And so they’re tired. And so now we’re dealing with a tired, overworked employment situation where they’re not able to recover, they’re not able to recover from the hyper vigilant state, and incorporate me to some of the resilience that they need to have to be clear headed and go back on the street. So as far as defunding, and, and rerouting of funds, it winds up impacting on the negative side as far as like training costs, employment, trying to get people in there to fill slots. And then there’s also the other side where it’s like, okay, well, that clears our plate for doing other things. So I think there’s pros and cons to it. And I think that’s what I hear from law enforcement. There was a lot of fear initially, which was everybody’s gonna get laid off. And what’s happened instead is that there’s an attrition. Attrition within law enforcement is huge right now. People are leaving in droves, because they don’t want to stay in a position where they’re not appreciated. And so then there’s this problem of not being able to fill those slots. So pros and cons.
Curt Widhalm 21:19
Moving this conversation a little bit from kind of the systemic issues, which I think a lot of the complaints that we’re talking about here are and maybe moving this a little bit more into some practical advice for the work that a lot of our audience does in working one on one with people. What are some of the issues that bring law enforcement officers into therapy?
Cyndi Doyle 21:42
You know, what brings anybody into therapy is really what it is. It’s the presenting issues, I don’t think are any different with law enforcement than it is for anybody else. So stress a lot of times is what you hear stress, not feeling, reacting in anger. So maybe emotional dysregulation, being disconnected from their body. If you want to call that disassociated from the body. A lot of times I say checked out from the neck down because they’ve just compartmentalize, compartmentalize, compartmentalize. And they don’t know how to let that out and to integrate it, I would say marital issues, you know, just like every couple, they come in, and they’re like, We have problems with communication. So some of that intimacy related issues, for sure. There is I would say stress, anxiety, depression, sometimes it can be addiction of some kind. And that addiction can just be, you know, scrolling, social media, it can be video games, it can be drinking, there’s also sometimes an acting out. So they’re acting out behaviors that they don’t necessarily that are not consistent with who they want to be. So it can run the gamut. It’s not, you know, it’s just like any other client that comes in that there’s a great deal of there’s a breadth to the presenting issues that they come in with.
Katie Vernoy 23:07
You talked earlier that therapists often will over diagnosed trauma. And you actually didn’t mention that as one of the things that bring folks in. Can you talk more about that?
Cyndi Doyle 23:18
Many times, there’s an assumption that, oh, well, with everything that you’ve been through or seen, you must have just a buttload of trauma. And my husband will say, you know, there’s kind of like a stair step as to how he looks at it is like not every incident is a critical incident. And not every critical incident is a trauma is what he likes to say. So critical incidents can be anything depending upon the person. So law enforcement, many times are the first people on the job. They’re the first people on the call, they’re the ones who show up, when there’s been a suicide call, somebody blew their head off. And there’s brain matter in the person who’s still breathing. Right. So they’re the first ones on the call before the paramedics almost always. And so they’re the ones that are going in and seeing this. So many times they do have trauma. Many times they also can disconnect. And they’re like, Yeah, but many officers have a growth or resilience mindset where they can say, Oh, I’m so grateful that that’s not going on with me. What they don’t maybe understand is that I always say like, it’s like a tiny little it’s death by 1000 cuts, right? So you get all these tiny little cuts. And so sometimes we assume I think as clinicians that like oh, that would be traumatic for me to see, when in actuality they’ve seen it so often that there’s a desensitization. Now does the desensitization impact to them? Sure. It also doesn’t mean that every situation is traumatic to them. That unfortunately, once you’ve seen something or done something time and time again, it can not impact you the same way. So I’ll spin this around and go for mental health, like many times we hear horrible stories, and people are saying like, this is my trauma. And we might even be like, okay, because because it’s like, okay, we’ve heard something similar. This isn’t shocking to us. Our system is able to regulate this, we process through it because it becomes normal. And so there’s some normalization there for them in regard to trauma. The trauma situations many times are something that they connect with personally. What I hear many times from law enforcement is it’s the personalization of a call, and not the call itself. So it’s the fact that the kid that was in the pool was wearing the same pajamas, as their child has in the drawer. It’s the fact that my husband goes, and he goes to a suicide call, but what impacted him was the dog that was stuck there for five days, all alone. It’s the impact of hearing a mother cry for the child. And that is many times the impact of the trauma and not the call itself. They can kind of desensitize and depersonalized, the calls many times, but once there’s something that’s unique about that call that connects it to them personally, is usually where the trauma is.
Curt Widhalm 26:15
I like that you’re driving this home, because I think that a lot of what I’ve heard in and across my career is that working with law enforcement, working with active military members, that there’s cultural aspects that you need to understand, and I don’t think that I’ve heard it so concisely put like, you’ve just put it there as far as like, and even drawing the comparisons to our own profession. In preparation to be in a field like law enforcement, what kinds of trainings do they go through to help develop some of that resilience? So it’s not just people like, oh, go, go get traumatized until you’re desensitized to it? And then you won’t react to this stuff anymore.
Cyndi Doyle 27:07
So that has definitely changed over the years. But it’s not enough. It’s not enough because it needs to be consistent. I would, you know, I’ve been I’ve been walking this walk with law enforcement for 21 years, and for 22 years now. And for a long time, it’s just been kind of lip service, go through a class. So at the academy, you go through a class and you learn about mental health, you learn, but many times it was mental health about working with individuals with mental health and not like your own mental health. I would say probably in the last five years, we’ve really been or they’ve really been more focused on Oh, yes, crap, there actually is a problem here. When we have a suicide rate that’s super high. Law enforcement suicides are declining, because we are paying attention to it more, but it’s still, you know, because of the stigma of mental health. It’s not reported. The stigma of mental health prevents people from reporting their own struggles with mental health. So it’s the changing of the guard that has to happen. My husband, like I said, was the crusty curmudgeon. He was the one that was like, he and I would argue about mental health. And so it’s, as people are coming in new individuals are coming in. And they’re saying, hey, mental health is health into the field, that the culture is starting to change in regard to mental health. They’re starting to say I had an officer recently in February, that came up to me and said, Hey, I know that I can get mental health leave for my mental health. But how do I do that? And still feel like they’re not going to look at me negatively? And I’m like, I don’t have an answer for that yet. So part of it is the culture. So right now, many times, it’s just a training program that they go through. Peer support is really becoming more and more well known in the community and in in the industry. So and I can tell you like I had two requests this week to say, Hey, I’ve heard about you, can you help me with peer support? I’m like, No, but let me refer you to people that can. So peer support, and you may already know this, but peer support is the idea of having individuals in the field that are trained in Psychological First Aid, or in CISM, which is critical incident stress management. And having those two then these teams have peer support are available for a department, are available for a county or a community. And so peer support is becoming larger and larger, and officers are becoming more demanding of having peer support within their departments, which I think is fantastic. And it makes somebody available and it before it used to be more just like ministry, and now it’s actually officers. I work pretty closely with Oklahoma City. They have an amazing peer support team. And they are actually helping to train others. Retired officers are starting to train on peer support. So there’s a shift in the community to broad provide those types of services, which I think are more helpful than just a training class. Grant programs. I’m associated with a couple of different departments, and they have grant programs, states are offering grant programs to incorporate mental health services that are not tied to insurance. And that is making it more usable. So I worked with a couple of PDs and I see people telehealth and I submit a bill to the department and I say client number one, client number two, and I put the number of sessions and that’s all they know.
Katie Vernoy 30:45
Cyndi Doyle 30:45
So that to me is starting to shift the tide and starting to help officers understand that their mental health is important. And it’s shifting the crusty curmudgeons a little bit around, and I was super proud of my husband, because he actually became known as the guy that had the open door. People found out what I did. And they would say, hey, LT, do you have a second? And he would listen to them. And he said, let me see how I can get you help. But he was the first one in his department to do that, and kind of have an open door and say, I won’t judge.
Katie Vernoy 31:19
When we look at kind of getting the mental health of law enforcement officers more addressed, you know, like that they there’s more mental wellness, there’s this peer support, that kind of stuff. Like, how does that, you know, kind of pulling back into the system’s perspective? How does that shift the culture? How does that shift how law enforcement interacts with the community because it feels like this is a positive thing. But it’s also like, hey, there’s, there’s systemic issues. There’s, there’s a lot of things where, I mean, we didn’t even talk about bias and prejudice, and you know, all the things that I think a lot of times are really important that law enforcement is able to look at. How does this actually address this? Because I think there are folks, I think, who are, if they’re listening this long to this episode, are still doubtful that there is a place for law enforcement.
Cyndi Doyle 32:08
Sure. And I won’t even say, well, so the cycle, I think I’m gonna go that direction. So when you’re looking at law enforcement, and I’m going to go also to what Curt said a little while ago, was the idea of resilience. So the cynicism that happens within law enforcement is like it’s just toxic, right? So if you’re dealing with negative people, bad things happening all day long, your world is going to be like, Oh, everybody is out to get everybody else. Everybody is a predator. Everybody is, you know, has an angle. And that’s their mindset. We do that too, right? We’re like, oh, everybody’s abused. Everybody has trauma.
Katie Vernoy 32:49
Cyndi Doyle 32:50
So this idea of the mindset is really important. So if we can incorporate the idea of mental health and resilience within that, so helping them to kind of expand their world. And what I’m many times is, it’s the humanization of an officer, right? So my goal, as a clinician, my goal as somebody who wants to impact this community, is to make officers more human. Not to be seen as more human, I’m really careful there, it’s that they become more human, that they understand that there is good, as well as negative in the world, and that everything is not bad. And that I can step back and have gratitude, I can step back and have an appreciation, I can step back and have empathy, which by the way, is very dangerous. If you’re on the job for a law enforcement officer. I’m gonna go around and feel everybody’s feelings. No, that doesn’t work. But I can step back and have empathy for community, for an individual, for a situation. My husband talks about having courage to see it a different way, and humanizing situations, and that if officers can work on having that humanization of the world in a different way, it can bring a different attitude, belief system towards situations. Now, once again, I can’t say like it’s going to impact systematization. Is there always going there always going to be problems? Sure. There’s always problems in any career, in any profession. I can’t say that there’s not a better way of doing things. All I can do is impact the officers in a positive way to make them become more human, for them to become more vulnerable, for them to understand that there’s good in the world as well as bad and that changes their mindset and the way they interact overall with their families, with the community and on the job.
Curt Widhalm 34:47
For clinicians who have come from communities that have disproportionately been effected by law enforcement interactions, do you have any advice for those clinicians.
Cyndi Doyle 35:02
As far as advice, I don’t I don’t know that I have advice. I mean, I would say their experiences are valid in the sense that there are departments that are struggling, and there are departments that are needing to turn things around. So I wouldn’t want to invalidate any of that. I would maybe encourage them to do what we do as clinicians, which is meet people where they’re at, to understand their stories, to understand maybe where they’re coming from, maybe not to excuse it, but to see, okay, well, that’s where that is, where are my boundaries? What do I want to do? How do I want to impact? I always encourage people to advocate. I would encourage, like advocate, find out how you can help how can you get involved. That might be a way to change the system, but also continue to impact in support your own community in whatever they’re struggling with. So it’s hard for me to just give some blanket advice in regards to that. But I think it’s just different in every community and people are struggling.
Katie Vernoy 36:08
I’m really hearing you say that when we can move back from the cynicism, when we can have peer support and training and, and community policing, that there is a human to human connection that can overcome a lot of what we’ve seen. I hear that. And I also feel like there’s such a long way to go. And so I just wanted to honor that. Because I think that there are a lot of folks that have been deeply hurt by law enforcement that probably are having feelings about what we’re talking about here and don’t see a hope for that. And so I just want to acknowledge that this is a very huge system with tons and tons of different people in it, tons and tons of different philosophies and all those things. And, you know, your your hope and the way that you’re looking at it gives me some hope that there is some possibilities for for systemic change. And so I just wanted to acknowledge that this is way more complex than we have time to go into and I just really appreciate that you’re sharing kind of the human side of law enforcement with us today.
Curt Widhalm 37:10
Where can people find out more about you and your work?
Cyndi Doyle 37:13
In regard to law enforcement my website is code4couples which is number four. So Code for Couples is where I am. I also have a podcast. I also have Instagram and Facebook under that, or if you’re interested in any other things that I do. That’s cyndidoyle.com.
Curt Widhalm 37:33
And we’ll include links to that in our show notes over at mtsgpodcast.com. Follow us on our social media, and support us through our Patreon or buy us a coffee and let us know what you like about our show, what you would like us to explore and until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm, Katie Vernoy And Cyndi Doyle.
Katie Vernoy 37:55
Thanks again to our sponsor, Thrizer.
Curt Widhalm 37:58
Thrizer is a new billing platform for therapists that was built on the belief that therapy should be accessible and clinician should earn what they are worth. Every time you build a client through Thrizer an insurance claim is automatically generated and sent directly to the clients insurance. From there Thrizer provides concierge support to ensure clients get their reimbursement quickly and directly into their bank account. By eliminating reimbursement by cheque, confusion around benefits and obscurity with reimbursement status they allow your clients to focus on what actually matters rather than worrying about their money. It is very quick and easy to get set up and it works great with EHR systems.
Katie Vernoy 38:38
Their team is super helpful and responsive and the founder is actually a longtime therapy client who grew frustrated with his reimbursement times. Thrizer lets you become more accessible while remaining in complete control of your practice. Better experience for your clients during therapy means higher retention. Money won’t be the reason they quit on therapy. Sign up using bit.ly/moderntherapists and use the code ‘moderntherapists’ if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free. You will get one month of no payment processing fees meaning you will earn 100% of your cash rate during that time.
Curt Widhalm 39:12
Once again, sign up at bit.lymoderntherapists and use the code ‘moderntherapists’ if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free. This episode is also brought to you by Simplified SEO Consulting.
Katie Vernoy 39:27
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Curt Widhalm 39:56
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Katie Vernoy 40:03
Once again go to simplifiedseoconsulting.com to check out all the information on the cruise.
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