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We have 911Pros and other responders out there who still believe PTSD isn't curable. Good News: They're wrong!
Sure, be skeptical. It may be hard to believe that you don't have to suffer anymore with PTSD. But decades of empirical evidence support our claim. You can do more than just "Learn to manage the symptoms". You can experience freedom. And there's plenty of Big Relief for other Big Struggles too...)
Fortunately... although the old school mentality is still out there, the law enforcement profession has come along way in recognizing the mental health needs of our responders. Now, most of our big LEAs have psychologists on staff to provide assistance to their officers. In addition, nearly all emergency response organizations (or their governments) and our 911 dispatch authorities offer benefit packages that include Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that pay for a certain amount of counseling per year. (Click here to learn more about EAPs.)
At every training course I also emphasize the need for our telecommunicators to be aware of local clinicians who specialize in treating PTSD and more severe struggles our 911Pros face. So please read on...
Are you ready for relief?
EMDR: Our First Choice for Emergency Responders...
I urge you to explore an Evidence-Based Treatment (EBT) called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). It's one of only three therapies approved by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veterans Administration (VA) as effective in the treatment of PTSD.
But it's also wonderfully helpful with a full range of issues including anxiety, phobias, depression and more. I've been using EMDR with my clients since 1990 and can attest to it bringing extraordinary relief and reclamation of life for so many. That's why I strongly encourage all our emergency responders to try at least a few sessions of EMDR treatment every two years to "clear out" those memories that resurface. So they can stop feeling awful and truly move on!
To learn more about EMDR, you can visit www.emdria.org. And, in our book, The Resilient 9-1-1 Professional, you'll find stories of real cases in which EMDR therapy provided huge relief to your 911 colleagues. Also, check out EMDR: The Hidden Gem of PTSD Treatment, an article in EMS World magazine in which flight nurse Krista Haugen describes her healing after a near fatal helicopter crash, and I share my clinical experience helping others with EMDR.
Helping you Find a Good Therapist
For years, I've been so grateful that 911Pros have let me personally bridge them to EMDR Therapists. This help is important in many cases to assure a fit for you with the right clinician and the best potential for healing. And so for non-emergent situations, I'll still do my best to help you make this connection when needed.
(Email us at info@911Training.net. Your request for help will be treated as confidential.) Yet you can also visit emdria.org to directly look for a qualified EMDR Therapists at this link. Whether we help you find the right person or you do on your own, check out the questions below to vet them first.
A few Questions to Ask Therapists before Deciding...
Whether you find your EMDR Therapist yourself, using the EMDRIA Find a Therapist search engine (here), or through our EMDR for 911 Directory once finished, don't hesitate to "vet" them before you decide to schedule an appointment. After all, this is an important decision and any dedicated therapist will usually be willing to take five minutes by phone to answer your questions before committing to treatment. When you leave a message, emphasize you're not looking for free phone therapy; you've been advised to just ask a few key questions to determine "fit". But be patient if it takes a day or two for them to call you back since they may be handling a lot of crises or taking a well-needed few days off! Here are the questions wise consumers should ask any therapist to help you make your decision about treatment.
1. First offer them a very brief description of your counseling need (e.g., "I'm struggling with trauma from the job", or "Dealing with depression..." Then ask: "Could you please tell me about your training and experience in helping people with needs like mine?
NOTE: if your issue is related at all to your work as a 911Pro, ask them if they have experience treating 911 Professionals. If they don't but are willing to humbly learn, and they seem like a sharp and caring person, success with them may still be very possible.
2. Then ask any of the following questions too (if you have not been able to get the info easily from their website):
> "I've been advised to seek a therapist who uses Evidence-Based Treatment. What treatment approach would you use to help me with this?" (that is, behavioral, cognitive, EMDR, etc.
> "What is your professional degree and licensing?" (also helpful to know about professional organizations)
> If spirituality is a central issue to you, you'll want to be sure there's a fit between you and the therapist so be clear about your faith orientation and ask her/him about how they integrate faith into their therapy work.
> "What are your fees and are you covered by my insurance (indicate yours)?"
The bottom-line: in talking with a therapist, you are looking for three things from and beyond these questions:
The person's attitude: willingness to genuinely partner with you, answer your questions, humility, degree of caring
Ability and competence to be effective in helping you
Your sense of "fit" with the clinician as a person. That is, how comfortable you would be working with her/him
If you have tried following my guidance on this page to identify the right therapist and you're still not succeeding feel free to email me for help, Jim@911Training.net. Of course for emergency situations, call a 24/7 support line; they're always there, and you can reach right here! Above all, do NOT be ashamed of seeking help. You are courageous, and when you get relief you'll be glad you made this choice.
If you are a 9-1-1 leader, friend or peer supporter to a 911Pro in need of help, take courage and don't give up helping them reach professional help until they succeed. They deserve help just as much as all those souls they have helped on the job! Finally, when folks are having a super hard time scheduling/beginning therapy it can make a difference if a peer offers to ride along to the first session. But only offer this if it is truly needed, feasible and safe for you. Remember to seek the guidance you need in helping your peers so that you are not ever taking on a clinical role.
Feel free to email us if your questions are not answered by the information offered here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace to you all!