Treating First Responders Dealing with Operational Stress Injury and PTSD

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This workshop addresses the essentials necessary for treating first responders who are dealing with Operational Stress Injury and PTSD.

About this Event

Through the use of lectures, demonstrations, videos and using case examples this workshop will provide participants with the essential elements of working effectively with first responders. Specifically, this workshop addresses the essentials necessary for treating first responders who are dealing with Operational Stress Injury and PTSD. By the end of the workshop participants will have gained information: critical to forming a therapeutic alliance with first responders; about common psychological issues that they will be confronted with in working with first responders; about how to conceptualize an effective therapeutic strategy.


1) Phase 1: Understanding first responders. This phase will focus on the experience of first responder and how this impacts their psychological presentation

2) Phase 2: Understanding what psychological issues they experience. This phase will move beyond a DSM5 diagnosis to explore how the dynamics of trust, shame, and vulnerability impact the therapeutic alliance. Special attention will be given to moral injury and complex PTSD

3) Phase 3 Principles in treating first responders. This phase will provide an outline for effective therapeutic intervention, including key principles essential to working with first responders

LEARNING OBJECTIVES (participants will):

-understand the unique world view and experience that first responders have

-understand how powerful first responder cultures are in shaping the individual

-appreciate the differences among first responder groups (e.g. fire, police, paramedics)

-be able to identify and work with the barriers to therapy common among first responders – specifically focusing on shame, vulnerability and mistrust they come to therapy with.

-understand and appreciate their experience of trauma, with special attention given to moral injury and complex PTSD

-be able to identify the characteristics they need to develop as a therapist in order to work effectively with first responders

-be provided a four-step outline in treating first responder trauma

-be provided with principles that will make therapy with first responders more effective


8:00 -915 Introduction of the presenter. An overview of first responders and their culture. The emphasis will be how important it is to the therapeutic enterprise to understand their experience, world view and culture.

9:15 – 9:25 BREAK

9:25 - 10:25- The first half of this phase will explore the critical issues of shame, vulnerability and trust that the therapist will need to be aware of in treating first responders. The second half will focus on their unique experience of trauma with a special focus on the nature of complex trauma and trauma caused by moral injury.

10:25 – 10 :40 QUESTIONS

10:40 – 10:50 BREAK

10:50 – 12:00 The last section will begin by focusing on the personal characteristics of the therapist that are critical to working with first responders. It will then provide a four step model in working with first responder trauma, including therapeutic techniques that will increase effectiveness of therapy.

12:00 - 12:15 QUESTIONS

Your Presenter: Dr. Mark Davies, R. Psych. #1418 B.A. M.Div. M.Ed. Ph.D.

Dr. Davies received his Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology from the University of Alberta in 1995. From 1995 -2007 Dr. Davies was an associate professor of family studies at Carey and Regent College on the UBC campus. Since 2007 Dr. Davies has been in full time in private practice. Dr. Davies has had extensive experience working with trauma and first responders. His work includes providing psychological services for individuals, facilitating CISD’s, leading seminars and workshops and acting as a consultant to first responder agencies. His expertise includes treating psychological issues (depression, anxiety, trauma), building psychological resilience and creating psychologically healthy workplaces. The resilience program he developed has been used by many first responder agencies and he has trained over 3000 first responders in it. He is a contributing author of Power, Police Officer Wellness, Ethics and Resilience.(Eds. Papazoglou and Blumberg, Academic Press, 2020.

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