First Responders

First Responders face a number of uncommon and unique circumstances in their professional career.  Shift work and odd work hours, overtime/off-duty work, staffing issues, hyper-vigilance, stress, negative rhetoric, burnout, repeated trauma, and limited mental health services all contribute to a growing need for therapists that know the particular needs of first responders and how to address them.

Due to my police experience, I have a firm awareness of the many challenges that first responders face on a day to day basis. I have found that self-care is imperative to managing stress and staying connected with community. These areas can be addressed by using the four pillars of health and wellness – physical, mental, spiritual/existential, and relational. For example, self-care in each of these categories can look like a run or a workout, meditation, prayer or self-reflection, or talking to a friend. Each of these pillars are a driving force in creating practical and incremental goals for self-care and help provide a clear outline for areas of focus. The goal with each of these categories is to find activities that work for the client and can be done regularly and consistently.

Another primary component to assisting first responders is addressing the constant rise and fall of awareness between hyper-vigilance and eventual collapse. Self-care is a large part of regulating the nervous system, however the trauma that occurs throughout a first responder’s career is a significant factor in how the nervous system responds to this daily change. That is why I incorporate Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy along with components of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy into my practice, as they contribute significantly to addressing past and present trauma in my clients.

If you, or someone you know, can benefit from a counselor who is trauma informed and aware of the specific issues first responder’s face, please reach out.

If you are interested in reading more about the effects of trauma, please read “The Body Keeps the Score” by Sean Pratt and Bessell van der Kolk.

This Post Written By:
Grant Pooley, LAC – Journeys Counseling Center
6516 S. Rural Road, Suite 101
Tempe, Arizona 85283
Phone: (480) 656-0500