About 30 staff members attend training session

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department personnel spent the last two days receiving specialized training in stress management from one of the state's leading forensic hypnotists.

"Stress management is a continuous, never-ending process. My definition of stress is the everyday wear and tear on your body. There really is no way to avoid having stress in your life, the only way to avoid stress is to die, and who wants to be that comfortable?" Inspector Marx Howell said during several points in his training course.

According to his Web site biography, Inspector Marx Howell (ret.) is a 32-year veteran of the Texas Department of Public Safety, a graduate of the FBI National Academy, holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice, and served in the United States Marine Corp.

Howell is trained in crisis intervention, critical incident stress de-briefing, hostage negotiation, forensic hypnosis and interpersonal violence courses. Howell has taught forensic hypnosis courses to law enforcement officers since 1982 and Criminal Profiling since 1984.

He lectures and provides training to over 2,200 people annually, has trained Texas Rangers in Basic & Advanced Forensic Hypnosis interviewing techniques and most recently provided them training in Criminal Personality Profiling.

Stress can come from cataclysmic events, personal stressors and occupational stressors. Howell said the human body can react like a living bio-feedback unit, that the officers need to develop. He said they need to be aware of how those stressors influence their body and be able to read the emotional, physical and behavioral symptoms of stress.

As part of his specific stress management strategies, he said that although you are not responsible for everything that occurs in your life, you are responsible for how you respond to it.

"When we experience the symptoms of stress in our lives, we'll notice that those symptoms have both physical and mental stress by-products attached to them," Howell said.

Mentally and emotionally, stress can also lead to emotional isolation from friends and loved ones, guilt, remorse, overreaction and hate-anger toward others.

"A little bit of stress is helpful, a little bit of stress keeps you sharp, but when emotion goes up, reasoning and logic go down," Howell said.

Class members participated in a personal relaxation technique, which included deep breathing and relaxation. The nearly 30-member class Thursday evening left saying the course refreshed and relaxed, ready to renew their efforts to protect and serve the citizens of Jim Wells County.