Five Questions Every Fire Fighter Spouse Wants Answered About Treatment

Author: IAFF Staff

September 3, 2019

If your spouse or loved one is seeking treatment at the IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery, you may experience a mix of emotions, concerns and questions.

Whether your loved one has already been admitted to the center or is considering making the journey, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your loved one is learn what to expect during the treatment process.

1. Why does my family member need residential treatment at the IAFF Center of Excellence?

Individuals typically seek residential treatment when symptom stabilization has not been achieved at a lower level of outpatient behavioral health care. In some cases, however, residential treatment may be clinically indicated when there is no prior treatment history. When an individual’s work, family, home or social life is significantly impaired by symptoms or behavior, residential treatment may be a good choice.

2. Will the Center of Excellence cure my family member?

No. There is no quick fix or cure for mental health disorders or addiction. Recovery is an individual, lifelong process that is influenced by a complex mix of biological, social, psychological and environmental factors. When your loved one is discharged from the Center of Excellence, this means he or she has met the treatment goals for that level of care and is no longer acutely symptomatic. Once home, your loved one will benefit from continued outpatient treatment, psychotherapy, medical oversight, a modified schedule and support from friends, family and employers.

3. How long will my family member be at the Center of Excellence?

It’s recommended that most patients stay at the Center of Excellence for six weeks, but clinical and medical recommendations vary widely based on individual clinical needs, insurance coverage and other individual factors. After the client is admitted and assessed, an individual treatment plan is developed. The date of discharge is based on progress made toward treatment goals and stabilization of symptoms rather than the passing of a certain period of time. Family members should not make plans at home that rely on the client to discharge on a specific date.

4. Can I visit my loved one while he or she is in treatment at the Center of Excellence?

Family visitation is welcome and can be coordinated with the primary or family therapist. The clinical team will work with the client and family member to determine at what point such a visit will be beneficial for the client and what goals will be addressed during the visit. Details regarding scheduling should be coordinated with the clinical team.

5. How can I support my family member once he or she returns home?

One of the best things you can do is to understand your loved one’s discharge treatment plan and recovery needs before he or she leaves the Center of Excellence. Therapists and case managers at the center can help you understand the client’s aftercare plan and make suggestions regarding daily activity and socialization.

Your loved one should not be expected to leave the Center of Excellence and resume daily, family and occupational functioning as usual. He or she will need additional time to attend aftercare appointments, individual therapy, intensive outpatient treatment or recovery meetings. Aftercare compliance is critical to continued recovery. Encourage an open and ongoing dialogue with your loved one about what he or she needs from you to stay on track. It can also be helpful to find a local support group for yourself.

If you are considering sending your spouse or loved one to treatment, you may still have many questions:

  • How often can I talk to my spouse?
  • What should we tell the kids or our friends?
  • What if my spouse wants to leave treatment before they are ready?

For answers to these questions and more, see the IAFF Center of Excellence Spouse and Family Guide, a comprehensive question-and-answer guide for spouses, family and loved ones of IAFF members who are considering treatment.

The IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery is a comprehensive residential treatment center designed exclusively for IAFF members struggling with PTSD, addiction and other co-occurring mental health conditions. Call today for a non-obligation, free and confidential screening for yourself, a crew member or a loved one.

We can help. Call 855-900-8437 or

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