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Adaptability involves reframing our thinking

Progress — that unstoppable, onward movement. It doesn’t come without a few bumps in the road. Progress guarantees change and that can be challenging in the workplace, especially in an industry with a long history like law enforcement.

December 15, 2017  By Michelle Vincent

Coupled with all of the daily stressors we experience in our personal lives, the pressure of having to learn a new procedure, equipment or process stemming from a “progressive change” can cause major anxiety.

From in-car cameras to the mandatory charges related to intimate domestic violence, to the exploration of wearing a body camera, police officers have already gone through significant progressive changes. The upcoming legalization of marijuana will be another one.

This new legislation means our views and experiences with marijuana will need to shift. In fact, our whole mentality will have to change. We have been trained and educated on the perils of this drug: the health issues from smoking it, the lengthy list of chemicals we know it is sprayed with, and the fact that it is often laced with more addictive drugs to encourage repeat customers. “You never know what you are smoking,” we have said.

We have attended calls at grow-ops in houses where toddlers are running around and there’s nothing more than a few hot dogs in the fridge. We’ve all seen massive marijuana operations in basements with infestations of mould that will never be eradicated. And that’s just some of the many haunting things we’ve seen connected to this issue.

I am not suggesting that legalizing marijuana is right or wrong here but it is a current example of why we must have the ability to earnestly reframe our thinking in order to be clear and effective in the execution of our duties as police officers.

Reframing our thinking trains us to find and from a creative place in our minds so we can see the positive aspects of this legislative change. For example, one might think about how the legalization of marijuana will provide people with a form of this drug that is free from the lacing of chemicals and other toxic drugs. It may provide tax money for the government, similar to that of liquor. It may alter how marijuana has been experienced as a gateway drug. Our courts will be clear of the backlog of matters to be heard in relation to simple possession.

It is important to provide training in progressive, leading edge processing and thinking. Learning the skill of reframing can provide us with healthy mental processing and adapting to new ways on the job. Effective processing may reduce the fear great changes, like the impending marijuana legalization, may create, which in turn may reduce mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It’s like ensuring the tubes are clear of blockages.

Reframing our thinking may support organizations in their training as well as the buy-in for any changes the organization is creating, along with the implementation of the related procedures. It can make for clearer thinking on the job, especially when dealing with extreme changes in precarious circumstances. Adaptability through reframing is key.

Michelle Vincent is a 15-year York Regional Police officer with a Masters Degree in Arts in Counselling Psychology and a background in equine assisted therapy, workplace reintegration and teaching. Her counselling practice is supervised by a psychologist with a specialty in addictions and trauma. She can be contacted at:

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