Skip to content

The “E” Division (B.C.) RCMP Members’ Support Group

Nov 10

History:

In 2007 after more than 30 years of association with the RCMP, I voiced my criticism of the organization in several areas; including some training issues, the corporate culture, and governance.  This resulted in the Force divorcing themselves from me and commencing to have me “blacklisted”.  Today, as I write this brief piece I am completely “persona non grata” with the RCMP.  They will not pay for members who choose to see me for their mental health needs, nor will they accept any clinical opinion I put forward. Before this all occurred I was (and remain) a psychologist in good standing with the College of Psychologists; and as the employee assistance program still allowed members to choose any Registered Psychologist they wished, I continued to have RCMP members refer themselves to my practice.    After awhile I noted that the vast majority of my clients all shared a similar problem.  They had been mistreated in the workplace; many had been forced to escape into medical leave; and, most had lawyers representing them where RCMP grievance and harassment processes had failed.

It occurred to me that with the common concern these members had, I had the makings of a group treatment right under my nose.  In September 2010 I made a proposal to “E” Division Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) to fund such a treatment.  My proposal was turned down based upon OHS’s opinion that these meetings would become nothing more than “bitch sessions” and not appropriate for RCMP support.  Following this disappointing response I was content to let the idea go, however my clients were not.  Since that time we have existed for more than two years and the group has grown to approximately fifty members.

This brief article will present the benefits of a support group in the context of the RCMP and the crisis it presently finds itself in.

What is the “E” Division RCMP Members Support Group?

The group is a meeting of people who share a common problem; they are all in conflict with their employer.  They meet once a month to share their experiences, support, and advice based upon their own journeys.  The group is not a therapy group.  It does not need to be run by a psychologist and it is not interested in group processes or the interpersonal dynamics of the group.  It is interested in supporting RCMP members who have been “broken” by their employer.

Why a Support Group?

The group is especially helpful as it attempts to support other members through a difficult time in their lives; that is, during a prolonged conflict with their employer that may entail time off work.  As the RCMP has no functional/efficient processes in place to resolve these members’ issues the time off work is uncertain; this can be a source of great anxiety.

What are the benefits?

The “E” Division RCMP Members’ Support Group offers a variety of benefits ranging from practical to emotional.  These benefits include:

Emotional connection and support

Being an RCMP member who is on medical leave and/or litigating against the employer can cause one to feel isolated, powerless, and without information.  The members of this group share their thoughts and feelings with others who have similar concerns.  This allows the members to feel empowered, emotionally connected, and less alone.  The safe and welcoming atmosphere helps to reduce the stigma attached to being on medical leave and/or conflicting with the employer.  Group members tend to form a special bond based upon their shared experiences.  They often develop strong emotional ties to one another that manifest in continued contact and support outside group meetings.

You are not alone

The members of this group are helped by knowing that others are having similar experiences.  Hearing others’ stories becomes validating and provides the reassurance that members are not alone.  The group offers acceptance and appreciates individual members for who they are.

Information exchange

The group provides and shares information related to the members’ common problems, including:  lawyers, doctors, OHS, Staffing, Professional Standards, Employee Relations, the formation of a union, grievance processes, harassment processes, Bill C-42 and the like.  This is one of the most beneficial features of the group as it contributes to an increased sense of self-efficacy.

Coping Skills

Another significant benefit of the group is the sharing of effective coping methods/strategies.  Members who have “been there” share tips about coping with those less experienced.  Learning how other members have coped with their common demands helps to improve newcomers’ own problem solving abilities.  Moreover, the group frequently offers realistic feedback to those trying out new coping strategies.

Emotional Release

The group offers its members a place to appropriately release the powerful emotions that are often stimulated by the “dark-hearted” behaviour they have been subjected to.  Group members are provided with a place to express themselves without over burdening family.  A safe non-threatening environment enables group members to identify, acknowledge, and express their feelings.

Emotional and Psychological Benefits

The group members commonly report an improvement in mood and a decrease in anxiety and stress as a result of their participation.  The sharing of information, and the opportunity to connect with others, causes group members to feel better about their lives in general.  They are more hopeful and optimistic when they see others coping well with their situations.  Self esteem increases and a sense of perspective develops as members improve coping abilities and face down difficult challenges.

Increased Motivation

The “E” Division group members report that in such a reinforcing and emotionally supportive environment they feel motivated to take better care of themselves.  Meeting regularly with an understanding group of their peers has resulted in the desire to follow through on such goals as smoking cessation, weight loss, taking courses and regular exercise.

Making a Contribution

The group members report that helping others results in feeling better about oneself.  Their immediate sense of meaning and purpose in life increases as they are able to put to use all they have learned through this difficult period in their lives.  The group, in addition, has the occasional opportunity to educate the greater RCMP membership, and the public, through media appearances.

Conclusion

Within the “E” Division (B.C.) RCMP Members’ Support Group, its members find what their employer is unable or unwilling to provide.  These are people who have been wounded (emotionally) in the workplace by co-workers and management.  They are in need of resolution, not conflict.  They are in need of inclusion, not exclusion.  They are in need of support, not abandonment.  They are in need of understanding, not opposition.  They are in need of appreciation, not criticism.  They need to feel safe among their own at work, not hypervigilant.  They derive these things from their “group”; and we all believe that these things are an investment toward returning to work and serving the public in a sensitive manner.

Dr. Mike Webster, Reg’d Psych.

Advertisements
3 Comments
  1. As one of the group members, I would like to add the following:

    I have been with this group since it’s inception. We have grown to about 50 members in the Vancouver area. There is also a support group in K Division Alberta, and others that are starting up across the country. This in itself should tell all of you that there is a real need for change in RCMP management in dealing with harassment/bullying/intimidation etc. in the RCMP.

    When RCMP members can not find the help that they need from the organization, they will find that help elsewhere.

    Bill C-42 will probably be utilized to fire those that go outside to seek the help that they need. If this happens, it will truely be a travesty to the RCMP as a whole and those that currently serve.

    Last I checked, we have a Canadian Constitution that protects our right to associate, or does this not apply to the RCMP?

    If any of you out there are interested in contacting the E Division Support Group because you have been harassed and would like to speak to those of us that have experienced the “Dark Hearted Behaviour”, you can contact me directly at:

    rollybea@shaw.ca

    In Support

    Rolly Beaulieu

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Can anyone tell me if the Commissioner has used his new powers due to C-42 to dismiss the members currently on medical leave. I saw that Galliford received her notice of intent but can’t find anything showing any members actually being discharged. I’m in a similar situation after recently filing a harassment allegation. Have a meeting coming up where they will be providing me my so-called options. Thanks

Comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: