Treatment of work-related trauma should involve the mind, body, and emotions.
No matter what your job is, it is likely to have a huge impact on your life. Most of us work at least 40 hours a week and our jobs are closely tied to our identity. But what if the same job that you love and are passionate about also harms you?
This is often the case with first responders. Police officers, military personnel, and paramedics are often faced with situations that most of us would run away from. Over time, encountering these situations can take a mental toll. It’s hard to come up with an exact number on trauma as experts disagree on the definition of trauma. However, it is generally accepted that members of the police and military are more likely to be traumatized than the general population.
What is an occupational trauma?
Occupational trauma is trauma that occurs in the context of a person’s work. As with all trauma, there is no one-size-fits-all definition or simple explanation of what can cause trauma. A situation that could be traumatic to a person cannot trauma to their peers. In other situations, a seemingly minor circumstance can trigger trauma.
Certain professions are more exposed to events that can lead to trauma. Police, military and rescue workers regularly encounter death, abuse and even traumatized people. It is not surprising that many people in these professions take a psychological toll. This often manifests as PTSD.
At the same time, these professions have a unique culture that sometimes makes it difficult to talk about mental health or seek trauma treatment. A robust professional trauma program is able to address a person’s trauma and understand the context in which it occurred.
What happens during the treatment of an occupational trauma?
Treating occupational trauma is not entirely different from treating other forms of PTSD. At the Sunshine Coast Health Center in British Columbia, occupational trauma management focuses on helping people cope with symptoms while creating personally meaningful lives. The program is designed to be aligned with a person’s values and beliefs.
The PTSD program on the Sunshine Coast includes science-based treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), One-to-One Therapy, and Somatic Therapy. However, it also includes treatments that are especially important for first responders, including research into compassionate fatigue and resilience techniques.
Professional trauma programs also focus on healthy coping mechanisms. Too often, people with PTSD resort to drugs or alcohol to deal with their trauma and become addicted. On the Sunshine Coast, the Occupational Trauma Program removes any shame associated with addiction and helps tackle the root causes of substance abuse so people can lead healthy, sober lives.
What is somatic therapy?
Recently, the Sunshine Coast Health Center added somatic therapy to its PTSD program. This approach encourages people to release the tension held in their body as part of processing the trauma in their mind.
The approach is led by Davis Briscoe, a somatic counselor with a background in massage therapy. Briscoe supports OSI (Occupational Stress Injury) and Sunshine Coast’s Trauma Group to provide somatic therapy to people with work-related trauma.
“We are pleased that he is bringing his somatic counseling experience into group therapy for clients and alumni with PTSD, professional trauma and other trauma experiences,” said Casey Jordan, chief marketing officer at Sunshine Coast. “We are constantly improving our trauma and PTSD treatment programs.”
Police, military, and health workers regularly find themselves in situations that most other people avoid. If that takes its toll, they deserve treatment that fits their beliefs and relates to how they find meaning in their lives. A career trauma program can help with this.
The Sunshine Coast Health Center is a non-12 tier drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in British Columbia. Find out more here.
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