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Pacific professors land mindfulness grant

Collaborative will study resilience training effects on police officers

A community-based partnership of police officers, university research psychologists and a mindfulness instructor has been awarded a grant of more than $275,000 from the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health.

The two-year grant will allow the collaborative to further develop and study the effects of MBRT, Mindfulness-Based Resilience Training (See “Tactical Wellness Comes to Cops,” News-Times, May 1, 2013).

Pacific University’s School of Professional Psychology received and will manage the grant, research and training.

Mike Christopher, associate professor and principal investigator, said the grant allows further examination of the feasibility and impact of the training on specific stressors experienced by police officers.

Christopher, whose research interests include transcultural mindfulness practice, and assistant professor Matthew Hunsinger, whose research interests include mindfulness practice and intergroup relations, began their work with the collaborative in 2013.

Lt. Richard Goerling of the Hillsboro Police Department, a nationally recognized authority on mindfulness in police trainings, and Brant Rogers of the Stress Reduction Clinic at Yoga Hillsboro, a nationally recognized mindfulness-based trainer certified by UMass Medical School, initiated the collaborative police trainings in 2006.

Three groups of police officers have completed the MBRT training taught by Rogers and assisted by Goerling, with research designed by Christopher and Hunsinger.

MBRT is a mind-body wellness course that brings contemporary neuroscience, medicine, psychology and experiential learning together in the classroom. Participants learn skills to enhance mental clarity, personal health, and mindful exercise emphasizing range of motion and injury prevention.

The initial research findings, Christopher said, were very encouraging. “We found improvements in mental health, physical health, better sleep, less anger, and lower fatigue.” he said.

Knowing now that MBRT likely affects such physical and mental status in this way, the grant’s program will be a sophisticated research design, including measures of how such changes affect stress hormone levels, unconscious social bias on split-second decision making, and mental clarity under duress, all crucial elements of job performance in law enforcement.

Any law enforcement agency or individual officer is welcome to participate, Christopher said. So far, the Hillsboro Police, Beaverton Police,

and Clackamas County Sheriff departments have expressed interest in the training, which is expected to begin in Jan-uary.

Interested agencies or officers can contact Christopher at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“This has the potential to improve the effectiveness and health of officers, as well as the well-being of their families and the communities they serve,” Christopher said.