Therapy for First Responders

Support for First Responders

Specialized Training through the BCPFFA equips professionals with expertise to effectively support first responders. This training encompasses understanding the unique challenges, traumas, and stressors faced by firefighters and paramedics. It provides essential skills for addressing mental health, resilience, and well-being within the first responder community, fostering their psychological strength and recovery.

Several of our clinicians have extensive experience and training working with first responders. Terresa is a member of First Responder Health and Wounded Warriors and is proud to be an occupationally aware clinician.

There is also mounting evidence that EMDR works well with emergency personnel, such as paramedics, law enforcement officers, emergency dispatchers, firefighters, and other front line employees, such as child protection social workers.

BCPFFA endorsed logo

PTSD and First responders

Did you know that Canadian first responders experience post-traumatic stress disorder at twice the general population rate due to high-stress work situations?

Some post-traumatic symptoms you might experience include:

  • Intrusive thoughts, dreams, and unwanted recollections of the traumatic incident
  • Worrying about harm happening to your loved ones
  • Hypervigilance or being easily startled
  • Avoiding triggering places or people
  • Feelings of fatigue and burnout
  • Irritability or detachment
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depression
  • Ineffective coping mechanisms

Some common ways a person might try to cope (but that doesn’t help heal the trauma) might include:

  • Using substances, such as alcohol or drugs
  • Self-harming by cutting or binge-eating
  • Increased risk-taking, such as reckless driving
  • Experiencing Moral Injury

Moral injury is a term used to describe what happens when a workplace incident is so severe that it changes how you make sense of life.

Examples of moral injury are:

  • Feeling obligated to go against your values to do your job, causing inner conflict, guilt, or depression
  • Not being able to prevent another person’s actions that go against your values or moral beliefs
  • Your unit or organization doesn’t support you, and you feel betrayed by them

Please do reach out if you’re experiencing any of these issues.

EMDR for First responders

EMDR is designed to help you process a “bad call” or disturbing critical incident. We’ll use EMDR to activate your brain’s natural healing process using a proven framework of guided bilateral eye movements. This treatment helps resolve traumatic events and will reduce the emotional symptoms you may be experiencing. You’ll also learn coping skills to support you during future high-stress work situations.

Other therapies for first responders

Trauma counselling

We offer individual and group counseling sessions to help first responders process and cope with traumatic experiences they encounter in the line of duty, such as accidents, violence, natural disasters, or medical emergencies.

Facilitating debriefing sessions following critical incidents to help first responders process their emotions, reactions, and experiences, reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and foster resilience (Dean only at this time).

Providing education and training programs to help first responders develop effective stress management techniques, enhance resilience, and prevent burnout.

Offering counseling services for first responders and their families to address relationship issues, communication challenges, and the impact of the demanding nature of their jobs on family dynamics.

Promoting mental health awareness and reducing stigma within first responder organizations through workshops, seminars, and educational resources. Providing confidential counseling services for first responders who may be experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health disorders.

How we can work with you

When it comes to finding the right therapy for you, each client receives a unique plan based on your experiences and what works best for you. We can try many different types of treatments, and it’s our goal to find the therapy that fits you and your specific circumstances. We always ask for your input and honesty to make sure we’re supporting you in the best way possible.

We provide individual counselling (both in-person and over the phone).

Other treatments we offer

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing​​

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and it’s an integrative therapy used specifically for clients who have experienced trauma and many other mental health issues. It has been proven very effective in dealing with these conditions.

CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, is a practical and short-term type of psychotherapy, useful in treating conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress conditions. It works by helping clients focus on the present, on the problems that come up in day-to-day life.

EFIT, or Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy, is a variation of the well-known and successful EFT (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy)

Play Therapy is a highly regarded and evidence-based therapeutic modality for children.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a modern and evidence-based therapeutic approach that empowers individuals to navigate life’s challenges with greater psychological flexibility and resilience.