First Responders Programme

WHAT?!

According to a 2018 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry article, the following is true for Canadian First Responders:

  • they are at increased risk of developing not only PTSD, but major depressive disorder (MDD), panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and alcohol use disorder (AUD)
  • the frequency of these issues is MUCH higher in First Responder populations than in the general public (so why do they get the same coverage? Hmmmm…)
  • one size fits all treatment won’t work because the article indicates the risk changes depending on varying factors in working conditions
  • the risk doesn’t just come from direct exposure; it can be from hearing about these events or relating it to personal lives (vicarious trauma/compassion fatigue)
  • AND the article did NOT get into the effects of exposure or diagnoses on relationships of First Responders (partners, children, extended family, friends), which are important to maintain to help prevent mental illness!
first responders

Who Are We?

Let’s be honest.  I could give you the formal spiel of Dochas Psychological Services being a site that helps you embrace the complexities of life by taking you on a path of discovery that results in great self acceptance, awareness, and peace.  I could also say we are in Spruce Grove, Alberta and there are a few of us in the office now to meet your needs.  BUT, what does that mean for you?

Dochas (“hope” in Gaelic) was founded by Kim Long (me), a base brat (military kid) who has a passion for giving back to those that serve.  My belief is we are all beautifully warped and unique and, if given the space to do it, would rise to our most genuine potential.  Therapy is about the honest relationship you can build with someone who doesn’t judge you or your experiences.  These beliefs are echoed by anyone who provides services through Dochas (like Pooja and Jenny Ann – they’re amazing!).

So What?

These findings, frankly, anger me. (Ok, I couldn’t be totally frank because this is supposed to be somewhat professional, but you get the picture.)  Why are we allowing those who do the most difficult jobs to suffer?  What are the limits to First Responders (you) getting care?  One of the things I’ve learned is your insurance coverage for mental health services for isn’t great.  Yes, you have some coverage, but the yearly coverage only provides for about 3 sessions.  Well, if one of those sessions is intake, then you are only getting two sessions of therapy before you run out of coverage, and this doesn’t consider if you have other family members who also need support because of the work you do.

So, what I’d like to offer is the opportunity to get great services at a lower cost so a) your benefits last longer and b) when they do run out, you are able to continue the work you were doing without a lot of financial stress.

That’s Great Kim, But How?

This program would be for those First Responders who:

  • Are NOT covered by Veteran’s Affairs or Workman’s Compensation (either by choice or because you don’t qualify)
  • Only have access to their benefit provider/no secondary coverage (do not have coverage through another source i.e. spousal/partner)
  • Have $1000.00 or less of yearly coverage
  • Are willing to see a Provisional Psychologist *(see note)
  • Are or have been a First Responder (dispatch, firefighter, EMT, Paramedics, Police, Corrections, Active Military/Veteran), or an immediate family member (partner/spouse, child (13 and up)) of a First Responder

The Program:

  • Fifteen (15) sessions at $100.00 per session
    • Day one is intake (meet your therapist, share your story, and clarify goals)
    • Sessions 2-14 are the work (EMDR, Resourcing, Prolonged Exposure, CBT, and other therapeutic approaches decided upon with your therapist).
    • Session 15 is the re-evaluation, where you have an opportunity to decide with your therapist if you need to continue services. Let’s be clear – this is about healing, not about a band-aid fix.  We also want to have as much access for people as possible, so you are going to be expected to be an active participant in sessions to stay in.  Spots will be limited, although there will be a wait list if necessary.
  • Sessions will be weekly or every two weeks, barring scheduling issues
  • Sessions are held at the Dochas Psychological Services offices
  • The program is voluntary. You have the right to withdraw from this service at any time.  Please do so in discussion with your therapist though – it helps us to know the “why”

This Sounds Fantastic! How Do I Sign Up?

Just complete the online form at or call 780-446-0300 to request an appointment as part of Rising From the Ashes.  You will need to present some information to verify your First Responder history/status and proof of benefits (if any).

*Note:  A Provisional Psychologist is someone who has completed all their training and they are working on completing 1600 hours of supervised practice.  Their supervisor is a Registered Psychologist, so you’re kind of getting two psychologists for the price of one!  How cool is that?

Carleton, R. N., Afifi, T. O., Turner, S., Taillieu, T., Duranceau, S., LeBouthillier, D.M., Sareen, J.,      Ricciardelli, R., MacPhee, R. S., Groll, D., Hozempa, K., Brunet, A., Weekes, J. R., Griffiths, C. T., Abrams, K. J., Jones, N. A., Beshai, S., Cramm, H. A., Dobson, K. S., Hatcher, S., Keane, T. M., Stewart, S. H., & Asmundson, G. J. G., (2018).  Mental disorder symptoms among public safety personnel in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 63, (1), 54-64. doi: 10.1177/0706743717723825

Or for more information,