You’re a hero because of your job and you are held in high regard by society. You put blood, sweat and tears into your work, and often your life is on the line. What you do is not just a job. It’s your identity. You are proud of your achievements and success. At times, you feel as if you’re invincible and unstoppable. Nothing can take away what you feel is your pride and joy. Maybe you are a police officer, a firefighter or a member of the London Ambulance Service. And you are proud of your work helping others.
You help others, but it isn’t always easy.
What’s also true is that you see and witness a lot of trauma. Horrific accidents and tragic endings. The hard truth is you can’t save them all. And this challenges you. Not only do you see things you would like to erase from your memory, you feel things like fear, doubt and guilt when things don’t turn out well.
Does this sound like you?
- Taking responsibility for things out of your control
- Replaying certain scenarios in your mind and question or blame yourself with “If only I had…”
- Distracted by disturbing and re-occurring thoughts and images in your mind
- Feeling jumpy at times, or finding yourself agitated by sudden noises or movements
Only you will know when your heart is pounding, your breath is shallow, and your thoughts are racing. Maybe you have talked yourself into believing these signs and symptoms are normal, that feeling this way comes with the job. But maybe your nearest and dearest family and friends know you better and have already shared their concerns with you. When your work takes a toll on your health and mental health, it’s not possible to perform your best. In fact, this is the alarm bell that needs your immediate attention.
If so, you aren’t alone. Many first responders experience these secondary trauma symptoms. The good news is that counselling can help.
Even Rescuers Need Rescuing
If you are a police officer, firefighter or other first responder, you may find that you cope with the trauma you’ve witnessed by ignoring and shutting off your emotions so you can keep working. However, when you shut down your emotions you’re taking an even bigger risk with your mental health. You became a first responder and chose this line of work because you feel passionate about what you do and who you serve so it’s normal to be emotionally affected by the lives you touch. But it’s important to draw a line somewhere.
It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help from a counsellor when you’re struggling with your emotions. You can overcome your struggles and challenges which are unique to your profession and personal situation by working with a professional and experienced therapist who is trauma sensitive. I understand the impact of trauma, compassion fatigue, PTSD and secondary PTSD. Having worked in prisons and secure hospital settings myself, I understand the daily stresses of people on the frontline. Furthermore, I’m passionate about helping you optimise your mental health so you can perform at the highest level.
What is Therapy for First Responders?
This type of therapy considers the experiences that are unique to individuals working as first responders. Counselling for first responders includes firefighters, paramedics, police officers, prison officers, and anyone working in emergency services. In your profession, you’re constantly exposed to emotional distress and trauma. As such, you are at greater risk for being traumatised by what you see, hear and experience on a regular basis. Together, we look at how you’re personally impacted and how you’re coping. We get to the core of what causes you the most stress. Often, we will include one or more ways of working in the following approaches below.
Trauma Therapy for First Responders
Trauma Therapy helps you process direct trauma and indirect trauma so you can feel stronger and more resilient in the face of trauma. Some of the unique experiences first responders have related to trauma include:
- Witnessing aggression, assaults and attacks at work.
- Seeing even strong people in a powerless state.
- Hearing stories from traumatised victims and survivors.
- In addition to seeing and witnessing, you sometimes need to intervene and play an active role in stopping aggression, violence or trauma.
Having an emotional reaction to these things is only human. Counselling can help you, as a first responder, fully process these experiences and cope with your own, natural emotional response. This way, you can maintain your strength to be there for others.
Stress and Burnout Therapy for First Responders
Stress and Burnout Therapy helps you look at the various stressors from work and how you can lead a more balancing life. Some of the specific things you may be experiencing as a firefighter, medical first response personnel or police officer that counselling can help you cope with include:
- Night hours that keep you from friends and family.
- Extra shifts to help with staff shortages.
- Weekends of working while your loved ones are off.
- Plus, the stress and restrictions of being on-call.
- Working overtime and sometimes at odd hours are the demands of your job, which you love because you are helping.
- You’re unable to leave work at work, bringing the extra stress home with you.
Essentially, stress and burnout therapy helps emergency workers in London learn stress management techniques and fight burnout symptoms so that you can continue helping others effectively.
Relationship Therapy for First Responders
Relationship Therapy helps you leave work at work so you’re fully present when you’re at home. Through counselling, I can help you repair your relationships and strengthen your bonds with your nearest and dearest. Some of the ways your job impacts your relationships might include:
- Little time for family and friends.
- Distant intimacy or a loveless love life.
- You work when others play.
- Even with time off to spend with others, you are still somehow alone.
Your job is stressful and it’s easy to bring that stress home. However, your family and other relationships are the most important thing to you and you want to be your best for those you love. You don’t have to choose between your job and your relationships. I help emergency workers find balance.
Dramatherapy for First Responders
Dramatherapy helps you express and process what gets trapped in your mind and body so you can be free in your thoughts and feelings. In counselling sessions, I often use Dramatherapy to help first responders who sometimes:
- Feel numb, trapped in your own emotions, and not part of everyday reality.
- Find it difficult to express yourself to those you care most about.
- Notice you are pushing away those people who can be a support to you.
Being an emergency worker is stressful. I give police officers and other first responders who may not be comfortable talking in depth about emotions the chance to find healing through creative means of self expression.
How Can Counselling for First Responders Help Me?
First Responders Therapy helps address:
- anxiety and depression
- bullying and assault
- low self-esteem and low self-worth
- self-harm and thoughts of suicide
- substance misuse issues with drugs and alcohol
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
First Responders Therapy helps you:
- release and express anxiety and worrying thoughts, feelings and actions
- process stressful and traumatic material from work
- build inner-strength and resilience from within
Begin Therapy for First Responders in London
When you’re ready for private, non-judgmental counselling, I’m here. Through counselling, I will you will stay strong as a police officer, prison officer, firefighter, EMT or other first responder, so you can continue to make the world a better place. To begin therapy, just follow these simple steps:
- Schedule your free, 20-minute phone consultation.
- Begin counselling with a skilled trauma counsellor.
- Recover from vicarious trauma, burnout and stress in order to become a stronger version of yourself.
Other YTherapy Counselling Services
As a London counsellor, I like to help a wide range of people prioritise their mental health and be the most mentally fit they can be. Therefore, I also work with adults living in London and professionals in various other helping services in my counselling offices located in Angel & Farringdon. Individuals in the helping professions often include health and social care workers and coaches, counsellors and therapists. You’ve spent months, or more likely years, helping others. Now it’s a sign of strength to acknowledge that it’s time for someone to help you. I would be honoured to be that person.
Latest Articles about First Responders and Mental Health
Source: Security Magazine | Published on 1 July 2019
Source: Vox | Published on 25 June 2019
Source: Psychology Today | Published on 12 June 2019
Source: The Family Institute at Northwestern University | Published on 28 May 2019
Source: Financial Times | Published on 17 January 2019