Cindi McCue 7/9/69 – 10/17/15
The Cindi McCue Initiative – Spark of Hope’s First Responder’s Program
When should First Responders Consider Seeking Professional Help
According to the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute, a first responder who is experiencing the following symptoms should seek professional help to assess and treat the effects of their traumatic experiences:
- Hyper-arousal: anxiety, trouble sleeping, fear, irritability, or anger, as well as other physiological symptoms of arousal of the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Avoidance: avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, including people who witnessed it, the place where the event occurred, thinking or talking about the experience, and/or avoiding other people—withdrawing from others and isolating oneself.
- Intrusions: nightmares, flashbacks, or other intrusive thoughts or memories of the event.
- Psychic numbing: using substances such as drugs and alcohol to avoid feelings, feeling numb, spacing out, or feeling as if things are unreal.
Individualized Trauma Assessment
Our clinicians assess each new client to determine their level of trauma and administer the proper course of treatment. With a special emphasis on helping first responders, our assessment process deals specifically with the occupational and life hazards police officers, fire fighters, EMT and active/retired armed forces personnel face during their line of duty.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed in the late 1980s and is an interactive psychotherapy approach used to treat trauma and PTSD, which are frequently co-occurring disorders in those struggling with addiction. The emotional distress many people experience is typically a result of disturbing life experiences. The primary goals of EMDR therapy are to treat the trauma, alleviate the symptoms, and assist with the overall recovery process.
According to the EMDR International Association, complete EMDR treatment involves memories, current triggers, and future challenges. Full treatment incorporates the following eight stages of treatment:
- History and treatment planning – The therapist collects a detailed history of the client and develops an appropriate treatment plan.
- Preparation – The therapist sets expectations for treatment and helps the client develop self-control techniques which he or she can use in sessions. The therapist will also discuss the client’s trauma and how it relates to his or her addiction to establish a deeper understanding of the treatment process that will take place throughout the client’s drug rehab program.
- Assessment – The therapist and client identify a memory that they will focus on during that particular session. The client picks a scene that best represents that memory and makes a statement that expresses a negative self-belief associated with the event. The therapist then encourages the client to make a positive statement that contradicts the negative belief and is associated with an internal sense of control.
- Desensitization – The therapist guides the client through a series of eye movements or other forms of stimulation while also focusing on the selected scene of the session while encouraging the client to be open to whatever happens. After each series of eye movements, the therapist instructs the client to blank out whatever scene he or she is focused on.
- Installation – The goal of this phase is to increase the strength of the positive belief the client has now associated with the selected scene by pairing the positive belief with the previous negative belief.
- Body scan – The therapist asks the client to visualize the scene once more and take notice of any tension that remains in his or her body. If there is tension, the therapist will help the client target each of these sensations for reprocessing to reduce and eliminate any remaining negative body sensations and emotions associated with the scene.
- Closure – The client uses the self-control techniques he or she learned during phase two and uses them to restore an internal state of equilibrium. This is beneficial when reprocessing is not complete. The client is instructed to keep notes or a journal of any disturbances he or she experiences in between sessions.
- Reevaluation – At the beginning of each subsequent session, the therapist checks to make sure progress has been maintained and identifies any new target areas that require treatment throughout the client’s alcohol and drug rehab program.
We offer unparalleled peer-based support to first responders so that they can feel a sense of belonging and safety sharing with other first responder clients. Peer support is an integral part of the recovery process and serves as the catalyst to erase the stigma associated with mental health counseling.