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Archive for the ‘PTSD’ Category

Desert Waters’ PTSD Costs Estimator™

December 15th, 2012

Desert Waters’ PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) Costs EstimatorTM currently provides an estimate of costs to a corrections facility due to PTSD-related absenteeism, based on quantitative findings from the nationwide study of PTSD and health-related factors conducted by Desert Waters Correctional Outreach (DWCO). Read more…

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Corrections Staff Well-being Programs–To Implement or Not?

February 1st, 2012

© Gregory Morton, Mike Denhof & Caterina Spinaris, 2012

This article examines issues that correctional agencies might consider when discussing the implementation of programs designed to prevent and remediate Corrections Fatigue and related organizational climate and staff well-being issues. Briefly, our qualifications for offering our perspectives on corrections staff’s well-being are the following: Gregory Morton has served at the Oregon Department of Corrections since 1975, including eight years as Staff Training Administrator. Concern for the professional and life skills of the corrections workforce has been his primary motivation throughout. Mike Denhof is a clinical research psychologist with over 12 years of  experience working in correctional and mental health settings, including extensive experience in inmate mental health and risk assessment, and general clinical-behavioral health and outcomes research. Mike has played a lead role in the development of clinical-behavioral assessment models for the State of Colorado, for multiple large behavioral health organizations (BHOs), and for numerous mental health centers, jails, and different types of correctional organizations. Caterina Spinaris is a licensed professional counselor and the founding director of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach, with 11 years of experience training and treating corrections staff and their family members. She is also the author of the book Staying Well: Strategies for Corrections Staff.

In our role as correctional employees we are problem solvers. We don’t like letting problems fester. We are trained to confront difficult situations. We are eager, sometimes even overly so, to address issues when we see them. We don’t like unfinished business or letting obvious oversights go uncorrected.

However, there is one historical predicament that impacts all of us but that none of us have ever addressed fully – the mental and emotional toll that the profession itself takes on its practitioners. Read more…

Corrections Fatigue, Leadership, PTSD

Conclusions from DWCO’s 2010 & 2011 National Surveys

October 21st, 2011

In 2010 DWCO conducted a pilot online survey measuring PTSD rates in the corrections ranks. Results showed that 39% of our sample met criteria for PTSD for symptoms experienced over the past six months. Read more…

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Hazmat Suit for the Soul

December 23rd, 2010

The other day I heard someone say that as firefighters expect to see charred bodies on the job, correctional workers should expect to encounter violence at work, and consequently, should be prepared to deal with it and not be bothered by it.

The speaker made two points here: (1) that staff should be prepared to deal with workplace violence, and (2) that they should not be bothered by it.

These are two separate issues. Read more…


Preventing PTSD

December 9th, 2010

In the last issue of the Correctional Oasis I wrote that administrators should consider routinely providing options for treatment to staff exposed to violent or life-threatening work-related incidents. Two studies in the field of traumatology support this suggestion. Both studies examined ways to lessen the long-term impact of traumatic exposure. The goal of the studies was to research how to keep people who suffer from Acute Stress Disorder from developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder later on.

Let me first do a little explaining about these terms. Read more…

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Reducing Staff’s Cumulative Traumatic Impairment

November 23rd, 2010

Given the corrections culture of machismo and bravery, what do you think the response of a staff member would be if you asked them how they are doing being exposed to a critical incident at work?

My 10-year experience of working with correctional workers suggests that the vast majority of the time staff would reply, “I’m fine.” Read more…

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The Cost of PTSD

September 30th, 2010

Sadly, the corrections workplace is one of the “natural” environments for the development of PTSD. That is because correctional workers are exposed to incidents that are considered traumatic, as they may experience, witness, or are confronted with events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.¹

Correctional workers are directly or indirectly exposed to violence, death, physical assaults, assaults with weapons, and threats of bodily harm or death, all of which are known to increase the likelihood that individuals exposed to such conditions will develop PTSD symptoms. Read more…

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Expanded Results of DWCO’s PTSD Survey

September 17th, 2010

In a prior post I presented some of the findings of Desert Waters’ groundbreaking survey of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms in the corrections ranks. They are repeated here, together with some additional results. The detailed report is still being written. We plan to have it posted on our website by the end of October 2010. Read more…


A Solid Partner

August 3rd, 2010

Printed with permission.
I thought I would write an article similar to “the old Screw” to tell what 20 years in Australian Corrections has done to me, my wife and family. She has been a solid partner. Unfortunately, I cannot say I have been the same to her or my children.

I have just retired prematurely, diagnosed with PTSD from an incident 12 years ago that, if recognized at the time, I could have sought help for.

Read more…

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“Shameful” Secret? Post-traumatic Symptoms in the Corrections Ranks

March 15th, 2010

The anecdotes presented below are used with permission. Some details are changed. If your own issues get triggered as a result of reading this, please see suggestions for help at the end of the article.

When I began talking and counseling with corrections personnel in the year 2000, I noticed that several of them suffered from post-traumatic symptoms. Some even exhibited full-blown PTSD, often self-medicated with alcohol.

I also noticed that, in the proud corrections culture, staff abhorred to admit that they had been negatively affected by traumatic work experiences. They’d often say, “I’m good. It was just an inmate.” But their eyes had the 2,000-yard stare. Read more…

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