Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


Greg Koehle


Post Critical Incident Seminar, Critical Stress, Well-Being, Grounded Theory




The purpose of this grounded theory study was to discover the impact of the completed South Carolina Post Critical Incident Seminar (SC PCIS) on the participants’ well-being, and the impact on the peer team members. Critical stress events or traumatic loss of life did have a significant impact on the law enforcement officer and those that were associated with that officer. The theory that guides this was study was the general strain theory; it allowed for the relationship between the duration, severity, and certainty of the stressors that had a negative influence on the well-being of those that attend the SC PCIS process. Research showed that unaddressed stressors lead to rapid and drastic effects on the psychological and physiological aspects of the law enforcement officer. These stressors could quickly and rapidly overwhelm traditional coping skills leading to a decline in overall well-being and quality of life. The ability to identify a program that addresses the efforts to improve well-being and create long-lasting benefits was vital for all parties that interact with the law enforcement officer. The qualitative study did involve semi-structured interviews with peer team members that interacted with all participants on multiple occasions at the SC PCIS seminar. The grounded theory was used in the data analysis strategies. The completed study showed that there was a positive impact on the well-being of the participants that completed the program. The impact of the SC PCIS on the peer team members was positive as well.

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