THE FIRST RESPONDER TRAUMA PREVENTION AND PEER SUPPORT TRAINING PROGRAM
Contact SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY directly to register https://www.sfu.ca/continuing-studies/programs-and-courses/area-of-study/workplace-health-and-wellness/first-responders-trauma-management.html
First Responders deal with traumatic events repeatedly, and on a scale unimaginable to those outside of emergency services. This specialized program explores how the stressors of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma impact the first responder, their families, and their workplace.
We explore the ‘best practices’ required to develop an effective trauma prevention and peer support program.
WHAT IS PEER SUPPORT?
“Peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful.
Peer support is not based on psychiatric models and diagnostic criteria. It is about understanding another’s situation empathically through the shared experience of emotional and psychological pain.” Mead, Hilton, & Curtis, 2001, p. 135
THE VALUE OF PEER SUPPORT
Connecting with another person who has lived with similar problems, or is perhaps still doing so, can be a vital link for someone struggling with their own situation. Peer support can be an effective prevention strategy, can moderate the effects of life-challenging events and provide a sense of empowerment.
Research also indicates that peer support can help a person gain control over their symptoms, reduce hospitalization, offer social support and improve quality of life. The information, empowerment and hope that come from someone who has been in their shoes can help a person better navigate the sometimes complicated maze of treatments and other forms of assistance.
CREATION OF PEER SUPPORT
MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA – Guidelines for the Practice and Training of Peer Support
THE CREATION OF A PEER SUPPORT TEAM
Our Peer Support Selection and Training Model is designed for organizations whose employees are exposed to traumatic incidents. The model is specifically designed to ensure that team members are psychologically healthy, and willing and able to assist their peers who may be dealing with acute, cumulative, post-traumatic stress disorder, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue.
TRAUMA PREVENTION AND PEER SUPPORT TRAINING:
- MENTAL HEALTH FUNDAMENTALS
Working in a dangerous or highly stressful environment can put your psychological health at risk as much as your physical health.
This course will provide you with a grounding in mental health issues and the current mental health landscape in Canada. We will explore several mental illnesses you’re likely to encounter, including schizophrenia, severe depression, personality disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- TRAUMA AND CRISIS INTERVENTION
Recognizing how a crisis affects your well being is essential to mitigating its impact on you and on those entrusted to your care. We will explore the dynamics of trauma, crisis and crisis intervention, including the human stress response (the flight, fight or freeze mechanism), the nature of “shock” and the signs of distress and crisis.
We explore different consequences of trauma, such as compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, examining how we respond to trauma, as well as the possible consequences of our psychological and physiological responses.
You will also learn the principles of psychological first aid and how to apply them in the aftermath of a traumatic event. You will be introduced to the mental health continuum model for categorizing symptoms, as well as to the myths surrounding mental health. Various stresses and occupational stress injuries will also be covered, in addition to the attributes and benefits of good mental health.
- SUICIDE AWARENESS AND INTERVENTION
The link between traumatic experiences and suicidal behaviour has been well documented, highlighting the need for early intervention. Discussions will include suicidal ideation, suicide plans and types of suicide.
You will learn the principles of early detection and intervention, including how to identify warning signs and symptoms. We will provide you with the resources and tools needed to assess suicide risk and stage appropriate interventions, using crisis intervention, effective communication, safety plans and attentive listening skills.
- STRESS MANAGEMENT AND RESILIENCY
Emergency Responders each have a unique aspect to their jobs, they all have one thing in common: they are routinely confronted with violence and trauma, and are exposed to unfixable suffering.
First Responders are at increased risk for PTSD, depression, and suffering from moral distress, compassion fatigue and other mental health concerns. We will discuss the key aspects of primary and secondary trauma, and introduce coping strategies to help them grow their own capacity for increased strength and resiliency.
- COMMUNICATION AND HELPING SKILLS
As a First Responder, you’re regularly called upon to assist those impacted by a critical event, including members of the public, as well as colleagues.
We will break down the basic concepts and skills involved in communication and helping others, including interpersonal communication principles and methods; skills such as empathy, clarifying, summarizing and paraphrasing; the helping process; the principles of helping (self-determination, equal relationships, dignity and respect); and the differences between counseling and helping skills.
- ETHICAL AND PROFESSIONAL ISSUES
We will discuss the importance of having a code of ethics dealing with peer support, the rules of confidentiality, conflicts of interest, multiple relations, boundary of competency, respect for persons, and objectivity.
- STRENGTHEN YOUR ORGANIZATION
The skills and techniques you will learn in this program will better equip you for handling the inevitable stresses you encounter on the job. By the end of the program, you’ll be able to:
- Explain the benefits of good mental health and describe factors that may enhance or hinder good mental health
- Understand how trauma in the workplace impacts mental health
- Understand mental health issues common to first responders
- Describe and overcome the stigma associated with mental health issues
- Describe the importance of families, friendships and other relationships to the mental health of first responders
- Incorporate best practices in personal resilience and stress management that promote good mental health
- Apply best practices that mitigate the impacts of trauma on first responders before, during and after an incident occurs
Contact Simon Fraser University directly to register. Education bursary inquiries can be directly emailed to