Webinar presenter Amy Morgan from Academy Hour answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Outside Yourself: Making the Most of Mental Health Resources. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: Did you say that, that you’re starting to vet inpatient treatment centers as part of Academy Hour?
Amy Morgan: Yes, we have only a few vetted facilities on the directory right now but we have started developing a list of treatment facilities that we trust, and this will be a page on the Certified First Responder and Academy Hour websites. When I’m doing interventions, I’m typically just texting my network of people saying, “Hey, do you have beds open? Hey, do you guys have, do you guys have, do you take responders or whatever it is?” So, we’re vetting those facilities that serve First Responders and military specifically. We want to not only know the people at the facilities, but we also want to vet, as far as talking to people who have gone through the treatment, and come out on the other side, and see how their experience was. And if it’s good and six months later, and a year later, they’re still doing great, they’re still in contact. I want to know which ones are successful and trustworthy, and we will continue vetting those. So, if we approve one, they may not be on the list forever. We’re going to continue keeping the list updated and current.
Audience Question: And I believe it is referencing Copline, is this for family members of police officers or just officers?
Amy Morgan: Yes, friends, family, co-workers, it’s not just for officers. They’re not going to turn anyone away, though, if someone calls, but it is retired officers answering the phone. So, they get officers. So then we’ll get officer families as well. Absolutely.
Audience Question: Should a therapist professional take it personally if a client desires to switch providers?
Amy Morgan: Absolutely not. We’re taught in counseling school about the fit, about the rapport. We’re going to try everything we can to build rapport. But part of what we’re also taught as counselors is when to refer to a different counselor, and that may be on the counselor side. Like you may go there with a PTSD issue, and they have their own trauma, and they’re going to say, okay, you’re actually talking about something that I have my own problems with because they’re humans, right? And they will refer you to someone else. It’s got to be a fit both ways. And counselors know that if you just say to your counselor, you know, I appreciate the couple of sessions we’ve had but I really don’t feel the click, I really need to I just want to find someone else maybe who has something different, whatever it is, just tell them and they’re going to say you know, hopefully, they will just be like good, I wish you the very best. I want you to get help.
Audience Question: Especially with the EAP programs. Is there any concern, or do you think people are concerned about confidentiality?
Amy Morgan: Always, but they shouldn’t be. This is why I’m teaching the Certified First Responder Counselor Program. I wish every EAP counselor who works with first responders or in a city, county, state, whatever it is, would go through to understand the importance of confidentiality because it is a real fear. They, but you have to know the difference between them. Here’s how I’m going to help with this question. It’s important to know who the client is. If you are going through an EAP as you are an employee of the city and the city provides, or the employer provides the EAP contract and pays for the counseling that does not make them the client, you are still the client, and so that the obligation for confidentiality is to you as the counseling client. They cannot share that, they’re not supposed to call your HR office, your supervisor, anybody else that’s, that’s between you and them, you are the client. The only time this is different is in a police department, if you’re sent to a counselor for a fit for duty exam. It is paid for by the department, typically. But it is the department, saying, we’re paying you and hiring you right now to do an assessment on this individual, to tell us whether or not they are safe to be out on the street. And so, in that one situation, a fit for duty, the client then, is the department. In every other situation, an EAP counseling situation, while they may have a connection to the HR department, you are their client, and so they have the obligation for confidentiality with you.
Audience Question: Regarding your earlier question about meeting with a counselor at least twice a year. Does seeking good counsel at a church, does that count?
Amy Morgan: Yeah, it counts, so pastoral counselors or church counselors may or may not be trained. And maybe someone in the church, depending on the size of the church. And whenever, if it’s a small church, maybe, someone who just has a passion for helping people who have agreed. You know, I have a good marriage, so I want to be a marriage counselor. They can’t charge you or bill like a licensed clinician would. And they aren’t going to have, typically, the education for counseling that a licensed counselor, licensed clinician will have, but it is a listening ear. It is someone who cares. Again, you have to find a good fit if you go to talk to someone at your church, who is the Pastoral counselor assigned or whatever. You know, you should trust them, because they aren’t under all the obligations like a licensed clinician is. And they may not understand the differences between confidentiality, or when to report a situation or that sort of thing. But typically, they are good listeners, and they are probably connected to resources outside that they can connect you to. So, if nothing else, it’s a great starting point to get you into talking to someone. If you’re in crisis, I would probably recommend a licensed clinician. But I would never, I would never say, don’t go talk to it to a pastoral counselor. Generally, they’re doing that because they care deeply.
Audience Question: Amy, do you have any suggestions on how to find a council there for a child?
Amy Morgan: Yes. Same thing. A lot of times your EAP will cover yourself and your family. And so, you can go and get services for the entire family there. And if nothing else, ask people who have children who have ever gone, but there are two levels of counselors. So, there are Master’s levels and their doctoral levels, child clinicians, specifically. You go on like psychologytoday.com, and you search for a counselor, you’re going to go by zip code, then your city and state. Then you’re going to click things, the filter and things like do they take my insurance, or I don’t have insurance, or whatever it is. You want to find some that specialize in pediatric or working with children. And maybe though, then they narrow it from there. So, it could be things like children with autism or children with ADD, or just children in general, children who have experienced trauma. Childhood trauma is enormous, and I would look for a counselor who specializes in childhood trauma if that’s the case. So, you’re going to want to find, not just any childhood counselor, but one who is trained if you have a specific need. If you just don’t know like your child has seemed to be struggling. Find someone who just works who has a lot of experience with children, and you can do that through Psychology Today. It is one basic starting place because most counselors list themselves on psychology today. So just go by the filter by what the need is. Then, again, go talk to them first. Call them first, and if your child doesn’t seem to be connecting with them, you treat it as the same as you. As if you weren’t connecting with them. Take them seriously. If they’re like, I don’t want to talk to them, or they make me uncomfortable, and they scare me, or whatever it is they say, or they just don’t open up after several sessions, you may want to try someone else. Depending on the situation. It’s a hard one to answer, not knowing anything about the situation. But it takes kids a while to open up sometimes. And so, it’s really going to have to build that rapport. But there are all sorts of things that work: play therapy, art therapy, things they can use with children as opposed to just talk therapy. So, look for all those options.
Audience Question: Can you talk about the role that post-critical incident seminars might have to connect resources to responders in need?
Amy Morgan: Absolutely, any of those. So PCIS, that’s great because then they are connected. So, when you go, and you do these seminars, you go to Wellness Summits, and so forth for first responders, they’re typically already well-connected, so we’re all part of this network. Most of us know each other. You know, we worked well together. We know which ones have a good reputation and which ones don’t. PCIS is a great place to go and, and, absolutely get some education. Attend some seminars, get some training, education, like I said before, read, read, listen to, watch things that are very helpful, but they are always well connected to resources, or at least have listings that are available, So I would, great, great place to go.
Audience Question: What if groups seem to keep you in a depressed state due to all of their stories?
Amy Morgan: That’s a problem I find. So, there’s a good side and a bad side to support groups. One, they’re supportive of you. The bad side sometimes is you hear other people talking about their problems and that’s great in a way that you can go, “Wow, I’m not alone. I’ve been through that and they’ve been through that,” so you have a shared taking away that sense of feeling alone. A lot of times when you’re going through a lot of stuff. It’s hard to listen to someone else’s stuff. You can barely handle your own. Listening to someone else’s may just be too much. In which case, you need to not emotionally invest yourself so much in other people’s problems. Because, if you’re taking all of that on, that’s vicarious trauma or vicarious stress that you’re now carrying around. Because you’ve heard those stories. So, you need to not rely on, if it’s not, if it’s bothering you, don’t rely on just the support group. Go to a counselor regularly and the support group as a supplement. So that, if the point of that is, is mutual support, so you’re supporting them, because they’re there, for the support, and they’re supporting you. You know, no one likes the one person, who always is the one that talks over everybody, and takes up the whole group time with their stories. Every single week. It’s supposed to be mutual support. If you’re not feeling supported, and you’re only feeling depressed by it, you may need to find a different group, or focus more on counseling and that sort of thing.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Outside Yourself: Making the Most of Mental Health Resources.