of The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Topic: Considerations in Working with First RespondersPresenter: Eva Tak, LMFTDate: Friday, January 15, 2021Time: 10:00 AM to 12:00PMLocation: Zoom
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This program will benefit LMFT, LPCC, LEP and LCSW licensees and pre licensees by learning to understand the unique cultural issues experienced within the first responder community and increasing the clinicians' ability to provide effective treatment. The civilian rarely understands the nuances of the work of first responders. This lack of knowledge often leads to mistrust, premature terminations and unintended mistakes that could seriously injure the client or their career. This is a serious consideration with the high rate of suicide among law enforcement.
Studies have shown clinician and first responder therapeutic relationships have failed due to the lack of cultural competency on the part of the clinician. First responders tend to avoid the vulnerability inherently. Especially law enforcement personnel who are taught to mistrust until they ascertain the environment to be safe. Therefore attempting to build a rapport too quickly can delay the establishment of the relationship. In their book "Counseling Cops", the authors survey first responders about their experiences with clinicians. The majority reported negative interactions and premature termination. This type of study has been duplicated. The exposure to the multiple stressors in the course of the work, along with past life stressor can create a clinical issues. Often these issues are a normal reaction to abnormal occurrences. It is important not to pathologize these reactions but to understand and guide the client toward healing. Without the competency of understanding the first responder environment, both in the field and within the agency many inaccurate assumptions may be made to the detriment of the client. Another consideration ofter reported by first responders is the clinicians' curiosity of their incidents. It is not the clients responsibility to train the clinicians to work with them. The participants will be exposed to situations where their expectations, assumptions and judgements about the client's profession can interfere with their ability to provide effective treatment. They will be provided with information to assist them in building a productive and trusting relationship with their first responder client.
1. Understanding cultural considerations in working with first responders
2. Ability to name types of trauma that affects first responders
3. Ability to identify common mistakes clinicians make when working with first responders
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