Counselling as a Means of Reducing Stress Among Air Traffic Controllers

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Counselling as a Means of Reducing Stress Among Air Traffic Controllers

25TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE, San José, Costa Rica, 21-25 April 1986

WP No. 24

Counselling as a Means of Reducing Stress Among Air Traffic Controllers

Introduction

During the 2nd Joint Asia/Pacific Regional Meeting held 18/19 October’85, the matter of “stress management” training for air traffic controllers was discussed. The problems of stress generated by extra-ordinary circumstances at work and at home were raised. Following a wide ranging debate the following resolution was passed :

I.  It is recommend by this Regional Meeting that IFATCA adopts as a professional policy the need to have available for any air traffic controllers involved in any ATC incident/accident a full psychological counselling service which would be made available after any such incident/accident.

II.  Counselling should be made available to any air traffic controller suffering from any other problems, preferably from air traffic controllers trained in the subject.

III.  The Federation should bring the above item to the attention of the administration of the MA’s and should express to such administration the importance of counselling.

IV.  The Federation should further stress the need for air traffic controllers to receive at regular intervals a series of lectures on the whole subject of “stress management”.

Discussion

The discussion at the Regional Meeting was centred around three distinct areas which might affect a controller: stress resulting from special aviation circumstances (incident/accident), stress/problems which originate from external social circumstances and the need for preventative measures in terms of preventing stress. Paragraph (I) of the resolution is self-explanatory and highlights the need for measures to assist ATCOs through the trauma of incidents/accidents. Proper provision of such services would ensure that controllers re-enter the work force as early as possible and in the best health.

Paragraph (II) and (III) deal with the day to day stresses which in the case of controllers and their work might have grave consequences unless they are properly controlled. Such problems include drug and alcohol abuse and family stresses. During discussion at the Regional Meeting it was clear that a management orientated scheme would be less successful than that run either by the controllers themselves or as a joint venture.

The final paragraph of the resolution is self-explanatory and highlights the need to provide preventative measures rather than to rely on curative schemes.

Conclusion

Paragraphs (I), (II) and (IV) can be considered for adoption as IFATCA policy. Paragraph (III) should be redrafted to make it more readily acceptable as policy. It has been suggested that the first paragraph may be included in the legal section dealing with incident/accident investigation. It is felt that this provision could be included in that section but the main policy should still occur under medical. It is a minor matter and no doubt MA’s will direct as they desire at conference.

Recommendations

When an Air Traffic Controller is involved in an ATC incident/accident, a full psychological counselling service should be made available to him/her if the controller so chooses.

Counselling should be made available to any Air Traffic Controller suffering from socially related problems.

The Federation stresses the importance of counselling and recommends that Controllers should be provided with the opportunity to receive at regular intervals tuition in the whole subject of “stress management”.

Last Update: September 20, 2020  

December 1, 2019   364   Jean-Francois Lepage    1986    

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