While first responders receive extensive training to prepare them for their careers procedurally and physically, little can prepare one for the cumulative impact of exposure to suffering over time. There has been greater recognition in recent years of the cumulative impact of trauma, stress, shift work, and the threat of violence throughout one’s career, which is crucial to factor in when working with a first responder in psychotherapy.
Other professionals who work in emergency response or inpatient psychiatric care are also regularly exposed to traumatic events and violence. These professionals usually work shift work, which can also take a physical toll over time.
If you are a first responder, military member, or veteran, you need to be sure to work with a clinician that has experience with or knowledge of your work culture and stressors. A qualified clinician will have specific training and experience working with first responder issues like operational stress, moral injuries, and compassion fatigue.