Individual Counseling for First Responders
INDIVIDUAL COUNSELING FOR FIRST RESPONDERS
This practice offers individual counseling / therapy services for First Responders. This practice prides itself in offering therapy services to our nations first responders and active/prior members of the US Armed Forces, by serving as a “first response” to these often unnamed heroes so they can return to fulfilling their mission and living a life worth living with their family.
We understand it is not easy to ask for help, and it may not be in your nature, as you have always been the one to serve and protect others. Please allow us the opportunity to now serve you and help you by providing some relief from your symptoms and/or stress reactions that you may be experiencing. We want to assist you as you take your first steps toward recovery.
As a first responder you may serve your community as a paramedic, law enforcement officer, firefighter, ER physician or nurse, and more. Your daily role is responding to a crisis, being reactive, sometimes placing yourself directly in dangerous or compromising situations, and relying on your training and experience to successfully execute your duties. This highly rewarding and meaningful work is also paired with a high level of stress. Stress reactions can cause vicarious trauma symptoms, and lead to symptoms of general anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress. These are normal reactions in the short-term, but if not attended to they can become more long-standing, pervasive, intense, and start to impact your daily functioning. Unfortunately in your line of work, where you have to think fast, react quickly, and execute in a logical and precise manner, you cannot afford to be stymied by poor focus and concentration, or paralyzed by indecision because yesterdays response to a disaster is triggering a trauma reaction and therefore impacting your performance to todays critical incident.
EIGHT SIGNS THAT INDICATE YOU MAY BE EXPERIENCING A STRESS REACTION
1. Nightmares or bizarre dreams
2. Recurring thoughts or images of incident(s) that causes distress
3. Feeling on-edge/tense, scared, jumpy, hyper alert of surroundings
4. Angry, irritable, low patience
5. Low mood, lack of life enjoyment, feelings of guilt or shame
6. Very limited trust in others and think the world is an unsafe place
7. Avoidance of thoughts/places/events that serve as reminders of the incident(s)
8. Isolation and withdrawal and decreased intimacy with partner/friends
HOW THERAPY CAN ASSIST YOU IN TRAUMA RECOVERY
• Education about common stress reactions and normalization
• Explore how stress reactions are impacting your life and present functioning
• Explore how core areas have been impacted: sense of safety, trust, power/control, view of self, and ability to connect with others
• Relaxation training and development of healthy coping strategies
• Decrease avoidance and relearning begins
• Identify and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns
Trauma focused treatment involves providing education on common stress reactions that you may experience post a traumatic event. You may think you are “crazy” or “weak” because of the trauma symptoms you experience; the reality is that you are experiencing a normal reaction in response to an abnormal/adverse event.
In therapy, your treating provider will assess your coping skills and make sure that before discussion occurs, you have healthy ways to cope with traumatic memories (i.e., increasing support network or starting exercise routine). You will be assisted in replacing unhealthy forms of coping (i.e., increased alcohol use, smoking, emotional eating) with healthier and more adaptive forms of coping. You will be guided in approaching thoughts and feelings that you tend to avoid as related to the stressful or traumatic event. The more you decrease avoidance, the less intense and less frequent your symptoms will be. Sometimes just learning about common stress reactions, and skills to effectively address these symptoms, is enough for you to start experiencing immediate relief and move into recovery. PREVENTION IS KEY! The sooner you seek help after a traumatic event to learn about symptoms, build skills, and give yourself permission to share what you experienced, the better the outcome!
SPECIALIZED WORK TO TARGET STRESS REACTIONS
Sometimes stress reactions have been lingering for months, years, or decades. Your treating provider will assess the duration, frequency, and severity of your symptoms, and determine if it is warranted to implement Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). CPT is an evidenced-based manualized treatment protocol for trauma. Clinical practice guidelines, which informs treating providers of treatment protocols that demonstrate the best evidence and treatment outcomes, dictate CPT to be effective in the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or common stress reactions following a traumatic event.
CPT involves 12 or more weekly sessions (60-90 minutes in duration). CPT focuses primarily on your thoughts and feelings that have changed since the trauma occurred, and assists you step-by-step in challenging and changing these upsetting and often extreme ways of thinking and feeling. For example, since the event occurred you may think the world is generally an unsafe place and that people in general cannot be trusted; this way of thinking may impact your relationships and ability to establish trust with others. You may feel guilt and anger because you believe the event could have been prevented if you would have done something differently. CPT will help you to examine your thoughts and feelings, learn to gain acceptance when needed, and/or learn when changing your viewpoint may be more helpful.
To learn more and get started with counseling services for First Responders, please contact us today, we would love to hear from you!