Confronting the Fear of Getting Treatment

Author: IAFF Staff

July 27, 2018

Fire fighters respond to a variety of life-threatening calls throughout their careers, and are frequently exposed to potentially traumatic events, giving them an increased risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

One of the primary concerns that fire fighters report about seeking treatment for PTSD or other behavioral health disorders is others in the firehouse finding out. In addition, fire fighters may believe that seeking treatment could be a threat to their careers. If you’re reluctant to seek help, there are ways to confront the fear of getting treatment.

Explore Your Reluctance

If you automatically dismiss the idea of seeking treatment, consider why you feel that way. Are you afraid of what your co-workers will say? Are you concerned about being seen as weak? It’s important to understand your own logic, because once you figure out why you are averse to the idea of seeking treatment, you can move forward.

Fire fighters in black fire fighter jackets in front of a fire truck

Talk It Out  

Discuss your fears with a supportive friend, co-worker or a family member. The key is to find someone who will be understanding. Sometimes, simply discussing the topic can be a good way to overcome your reluctance, as other people may be able to point out things that you has not considered.

Support Groups

If you prefer to get help from other fire fighters it can make sense to go to a support group. In some cases, a support group is less intimidating because a you can hang back before you choose to participate, and the focus is not necessarily on you for the whole meeting as it would be during individual therapy. When seeking support from other fire fighters, you know they understand the job and its challenges.  

Know What to Expect

People are often nervous about seeking behavioral health treatment because they are afraid of the unknown. During a stay at the IAFF Center of Excellence, you can regularly meet with your therapist to talk through any questions or concerns. Together, you can discuss goals and intentions, and meet for group and individual therapy sessions. These sessions allow therapists to discuss the recovery process and allow you to talk with others on the same journey to recovery. Gym sessions, education classes — such as “Setting Yourself Up for Success” — yoga and resilience training are all also parts of the recovery schedule during your treatment.


Behavioral health issues can be challenging to manage, but learning more about them can make you healthier and happier. If you have a substance use or a mental health disorder, getting help can’t wait. If you’re not sure where to turn, call the IAFF Center of Excellence today for a no-obligation, free and confidential screening. The IAFF Center of Excellence is a comprehensive treatment center designed exclusively for IAFF members struggling with addiction, PTSD and other mental health disorders.   

We can help. Call 855-900-8437 or

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