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Coping Strategies

Computer forensics discussion. Please ensure that your post is not better suited to one of the forums below (if it is, please post it there instead!)
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Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Apr 20, 15 20:28

I know this is an old thread, but some of you may find this helpful.

Before I was a digital forensic investigator, I was a therapist. I specialized in children and adolescents.

I can tell you that seeing the CP is damaging for sure. So is the evidence of violent crime, and even just the "normal" run of the mill cheating/infidelity/divorce stuff.

As has been said, this job is certainly not for everyone.

There are a number of ways therapy can help you deal with the things you see. The most effective (in my opinion as a therapist and as a client) is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It focuses on changing your thought patterns and your reactions to the thoughts your having. It makes you more aware of keeping yourself in check. It helps you recognize when you're "doing it again" (distrusting someone who you should trust, creating emotional walls so people can't reach you, shutting yourself off from the world, seeing patterns of behavior that indicate your S.O. is cheating when no such patterns actually exist, etc.)

If you feel you might need to see a therapist, you're probably way past the point of needing to see a therapist. It can be hard, though to try to find someone. You don't want to dump this stuff on some kind stranger, right?

But that's their job. And they all go to therapy, too (at least here in the US, it's almost always a required condition of employment that a therapist working for an agency see a therapist to deal with what they see and hear every day. Makes sense, right?)

Detective Cindy Murphy, who works with a lot of CP cases, sees a psychiatrist who specializes in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which has helped her. I have never done this, but I have to think it's effective, given what she has seen (and continues to see) in her job.

My professional and personal recommendation would be to find someone who specializes in CBT. If you don't "click" with one, find another. They're not uncommon.

If you're already at the point where you know this stuff is affecting your life, please reach out for help. Don't go around letting it destroy you. The bad guys win all over again if you let that happen. There are far too few of us, and far fewer who can tolerate the horrors this job entails.

Good luck everyone.  


Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Jun 14, 16 13:09

Well I feel it should be more applicable to people who have to deal with cases which might be disturbing in nature, like a obscene content review. Things like these can affect any individual and if the volume of such cases is more then it should atleast one counselling session per month.

PS: I'm not an expert, but just a thought.  


Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Jul 06, 16 16:09

At my workplace everyone who works with CP-cases and other sexual crimes against children has to see a counselor regularly, but the time period depends on the case load but it ranges from 1 month - 6 months depending on the cases you've been working with.
Also as colleagues we try to have lunch together out of the office at least once every week just so that the other members of the group can keep an eye out for possible signs that the case isn't getting to you in addition to our morning/afternoon meetings which we have every day.


Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Sep 07, 17 18:27

First of all, I am brand new to the forums so I apologize if my first post contains too many questions and if it contains questions that have been answered. I skimmed for a tad bit on this matter and didn't feel like the questions I have below were answered to my liking. I am a student in my third year of University studying Digital Forensics in the United States. My hope is to get involved federally, or with a private contractor hired by the government that deals with CP and other criminal-type cases.

As someone who has not had an field experience, what are some things that you recommend before taking a job that will require viewing CP? Do you recommend getting a therapist before you start work just to get comfortable with how they work, how you feel around them, etc.?

Also, what are you allowed to say to said therapist? I know with some jobs in the field you are limited to what you can say even around fellow team members. Is a therapist an exception to such a rule?

I know such a topic is horrifying but I really want to be involved in this field for such matters. It may be cliche to want to help the world a little bit at a time but that is my mentality. I am worried that it will get under my skin after a few years (maybe even months) of exposure. However, I want to stay mentally healthy to continue this for a long time.

Thank you for your time.


Senior Member

Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Sep 07, 17 19:50

- WhatTheHexadecimal
My hope is to get involved federally, or with a private contractor hired by the government that deals with CP and other criminal-type cases.

No (JFYI).

Im the US if - as a private - you happen to even have a founded suspect (or anyway at the very first seemingly CP image you see) you STOP and call the Feds (or local police, but the opinion to call the FBI directly is prevailing).

I doubt that - even if the contractor works for the government - you can have a "special permit", you need to be a sworn LEO, I believe, and then the federal or local authority employing you will have and provide to you established procedures/training/assistance .

Please take also into account that not *all* CP has the *same* effects, the definition engulfes *anything* where a minor is depicted but not necessarily *everything* that you will find (while still being illegal) will be shocking.

And sometimes it is not even easy to determine whether it is CP or not:

- In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. - 

Senior Member

Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Sep 07, 17 23:54

If you do defense work, it's possible you'll encounter CP cases. My understanding is that work on these cases has to be done at a police station or government office. Because of the Adam Walsh act, access to the CP material is limited; they can't just give a copy of a disk image to the defense like they would in a fraud case.

In the past, working in IT, I have dealt with three cases that involved inappropriate pictures of minors. In one, a teenage boy sent a close-up of his own genitals to an adult and the adult reported it to IT and we handed it off to the police. I think the boy had some issues. I wasn't particularly disturbed by the image. Because he took it of himself, I was able to treat it with clinical detachment. I hope he got help/guidance, but he wasn't being abused in that situation. The two other situations involved inappropriate, but non-pornographic pictures taken by adults of a couple of young ladies. I reported the cases. The pictures that I saw were not CP. Even so, they were disturbing and I lost sleep over them.

I would not want to be involved in CP or child abuse cases on a regular basis.  


Re: Coping Strategies

Post Posted: Sep 08, 17 22:01


You might be able to get some good feedback from a forensic examiner at a local crime lab or one of the FBI's Regional Computer Forensics Labs. The trend in the US seems to be hiring civilians with computer science-related degrees as opposed to using LEOs with computer skills. These examiners may have come from the same situation as you and can provide an idea as to how they learned to cope with the effects of CP.

In my personal experience as a LEO working on a CP task force, I wondered if I too could deal with the images when I first started. Over time, though, I found ways to cope and successfully work investigations. There's no telling if these ways will work for me forever, but for now they do.

Ultimately you may not know how you are affected until to come across such content. Until then, it might make sense to take a wait-and-see approach. (No pun intended.)

In the US, the patient-therapist dynamic is a protected relationship, much like husband-wife, attorney-client, etc. As a result -- and in general -- the therapist is prohibited by law from revealing what you tell them. There are rare exceptions such as if it is revealed the patient is a threat to themselves or another person. Nevertheless, you should feel confident that your discussions with a therapist are confidential.

Best of luck to you.  

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