First responders are some of the bravest and most heroic people in the world. After all, these individuals dedicate their lives to protecting and saving people of our country. If you are a first responder, we would like to personally thank you for your services and let you know that we are here to support you as you perform the most difficult, trauma filled, and often underappreciated jobs within our community. That’s why we offer counseling for first responders in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, and surrounding areas.
Solutionist Counseling has a comprehensive understanding of the utter importance of maintaining your mental health while performing your duties. We also understand that your stressful occupational experiences do not fall away when you return home. Unfortunalty, your job comes with a higher risk of stress, PTSD, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation and action. At Solutionist Counseling in Boca Raton, we are dedicated to providing you with a 100% confidential, non judgemental, safe space to address and work on the stress, anxiety and overall difficulties of your duties.
Who Are First Responders?
A first responder is any individual who is the first to arrive on the scene of an accident, crisis, or natural disaster. These brave men and women often sacrifice their own safety to run towards a potentially catastrophic incident rather than running the other way. Once first responders arrive on scene, they are often faced with immediate high-stress situations in which they must assess the situation, tend to injuries or incidents, and call for backup if necessary.
Common first responder occupations include:
- Police officers
- Emergency dispatchers
- Armed forces
- Disaster relief personnel
- Red cross employees
Many of these individuals receive basic medical training to ensure that they are able to help any injured people who may be on the scene of a catastropic event. Due to the unexpected and often traumatizing nature of the work that these individuals are responsible for, therapy and counseling for first responders is vital to their mental health and wellbeing.
Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health for First Responders
Although there has been an increase in education on the effects of trauma, PTSD, and other stressors in the occupational world of first responders, there still seems to be a lingering sense of reluctance for these heroic individuals to talk about the after effects of the job. Societal and peer stigmas contribute to the silence amongst first responders and reluctancy to seek counseling.
First responders are exposed to a variety of dangerous and unexpected situations that range from simple fender benders to horrific disasters. Often times, these men and women are interacting with people on the worst days of their lives experiencing the most pain they will ever feel. Furthermore, the work environment for first responders is not always conducive to expressing feelings. When considering asking for help there are factors that contribute to the concerns a first responder often experiences such as:
- Fear of job loss
- Stigma from the community/peers
- Being passed over for promotions
- Bullying from coworkers
Many first responders cope by suppressing their emotions in order to do their job to the best of their ability. In the aftermath of accidents, natural disasters, or violent crimes, a first responder is under the pressures of separating their emotions in order to complete the task at hand. The problem with this unhealthy but survivalistic coping skill is that your emotions are your psychological response to the trauma you are witnessing and experiencing. While some events may seem mild, other situations tend to take a toll on the mental health of first responders. Lastly, many first responders struggle with some type of posttraumatic stress disorder.
Signs That You Could Be Struggling
Exposure to trauma on a regular basis may cause a cumulative effect in the symptoms of mental health disorders. At home, you may experience an increase in escalatory arguments with your spouse, partner or children. You may also experience difficulty getting to work on time, feeling unmotivated to be there, and even regularly calling in sick. Consequently, substance abuse is a common coping mechanism when dealing with trauma along with feelings of worthlessness and suicidal ideations. Signs of hypervigilance or a feelings of being on edge all of the time are also common emotions that many first responders experience.
Common symptoms that you may be dealing with unresolved stress and trauma from your work can include:
Anxiety – There are many types of anxiety that can affect a person’s wellbeing and sense of calm.
- GAD (General Anxiety Order) result in most days a person feeling worrisome about many different things. It happens over an extended period of time.
- Social Anxiety can cause irrational thoughts during everyday interactions often times presenting as fear, self consciousness or a feeling of embarrassment
- Phobias are an irrational fear of something that will most likely not cause any harm. However, the individual experience causes intense fear of a particular object or situation.
- Panic Disorder can cause intense fear or anxiety often with physical symptoms based on perceived threat other than actual imminent danger.
- OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) are usually unreasonable thoughts and fears that lead to compulsive behaviors
- A persistent depressed mood or loss of interest in once faviable activities can be signs of depression. Depression can be caused by social, biological and/or psychological factors
- Trauma is a psychological/emotional response to a past experience that a person finds deeply disturbing. Some examples of situations that can cause trauma are bullying, disasters, abuse, medical issues and domestic violence.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder happens when a person has trouble recovering from a traumatic event. Some signs of PTSD are flashbacks, sleeplessness, nightmares, loss of interest in family and activities and feeling numb.
How Counseling for First Responders Can Help
Solutionist Counseling offers counseling to all first responders. We aim to provide a confidential space to address stress, trauma, and other issues concerning the mental health aspects of your job. Whether you’re an active or retired police officer, EMT, firefighter, dispatcher, or veteran, we can help. The insidious nature of unresolved trauma can and will eventually wreak havoc on your job, interpersonal relationships, and your overall mental health. Counseling that targets first responders will provide you with healthy coping skills you need to address any unresolved trauma while also helping you restore your most valuable relationships (both personal and professional).
When you are out in the field – in the line of duty – and you need assistance you make a call for backup. You call for extra support to help you deal with the present situation. Moreover, if your backup call is unable to make it, you call for further support. You will continue to seek assistance over and over again until you get the help and support you need. Solutionist Counseling is here for you when the dust settles, the task is complete, and you are ready to make the final call to help yourself.
Solutionist Counseling is proud to provide counseling for first responders in Boca Raton. We believe that everyone can benefit from some guidance in life. Through our compassionate counseling services, and we strive to offer the unique help our clients and first responders need.
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