Why Peer Support?
Peer Support Is Different From Professional Therapy
As a first responder (or someone who works alongside, lives with, or cares about one) you already know that ours is a tight-knit community. We work together on the front-lines, whether at home or abroad, to protect those who can’t protect themselves. We fight fires, criminals, and terrorists. We save lives. In doing so, however, first responders must put their own health and wellness on the line.
According to substantial psychological research, first responders—paramedics, firefighters, police, corrections officers—are considered to be at greater risk for Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than most other occupations. This is because their everyday duties routinely encounter “traumatic stressors.”
According to the RAND research company, at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans have PTSD and/or Depression. Fifty percent of those with PTSD do not seek treatment, and out of the half that seek treatment, only half of them get “minimally adequate” treatment.
Why such low treatment rates? Much of it is based in the first responder culture, which often values strength and stoicism above all else. Rather than forcing first responders to participate in therapy with “outsiders” among whom them may not be comfortable, peer support specialists provide a welcome alternative.
Peer Support Specialists Provide Preventative & Reciprocal Treatment
One big reason why traditional therapy is so often rejected or unsuccessful among first responders who are the victims of a critical incident is that the therapist simply can’t relate to their experiences. For many, this translates into “cannot be trusted.”
In peer support programs, counseling and training is provided by people who have lived through the same experiences as those they’re trying to help. They are empathetic, respectful role models who often get as much support and healing from the sessions as their peers do.
Why Peer Support? Because It Works
Research conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently validated the practice of peer support therapy and critical incident training when it found a “…notable drop in the number of [law enforcement] suicides occurred from 143 in 2008 to 126 in 2012—credited in part to an increase in peer support programs, a decrease in resistance to professional assistance, and improvement in proactive annual mental health checkups.”
Be part of the solution. Enroll in our peer support specialist and critical incident training courses today!