Police officers are regularly exposed to potentially traumatic events (PTE). Accumulated stress results in physical and mental health conditions, of which post-traumatic-stress-injuries (PTSI) are central. Currently existing mental health interventions for public safety personnel (PSP) appear to have limited clinical effectiveness. The current methods focus on addressing cognitive, emotional, and behavioural components without addressing underlying neurological and physiological mechanisms.
Autonomic Modulation Training (AMT) is an eight-week intervention. Using real-time heart-rate-variability biofeedback (HRVB), physiological reflexes can be rewired while individuals process current psychological and physical symptoms. The research team will provide personalized training and education tailored for police officers.
The goals of the study are:
- To reduce mental health symptoms of PTSI through a biopsychological intervention;
- To build wellness capacity;
- to examine how sex and gender are related to baseline biological differences in PTSI symptoms and effects of AMT.
AMT training is compatible with learning management systems and, if effective, can be distributed to police services across Canada.
Judith Anderson, Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Toronto.