Community Education Webinars Address Behavioral Health Issues During and After a Career in the Fire Service

Author: IAFF Center of Excellence Staff

May 10, 2021

The IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery offers a new webinar in May addressing behavioral health for fire service retirees and active duty IAFF members looking towards retirement. The cultural competency webinar for clinicians returns with approval as a continuing education credit for clinical social workers. Later in the month, Dr. Kristin Klimley, PsyD joins the Center for a discussion on unhelpful thought patterns and substance abuse. Community education webinars are free, open to the public and hosted through Zoom.

Treating Fire Service Professionals: Building Cultural Competency (NASW Credit)

This webinar on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. (EST) helps clinicians and other community partners develop cultural competency in the fire service to provide effective behavioral health treatment to fire fighters, paramedics and emergency dispatchers.

The event covers day-to-day life at the firehouse and the potential impact of aspects of the job on well-being, such as exposure to trauma, shift schedules and mental health stigmas. This presentation also provides insight on:

  • Common behavioral health issues experienced by fire service members
  • Substance use trends among this unique population of professionals
  • Treatment techniques that have proven successful at the IAFF Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery

This course is approved for continuing education by the Social Work Continuing Education Approval Collaborative, which is administered by NASW.

Completing this training will also establish clinicians as preferred providers in the IAFF Center of Excellence database for outpatient and aftercare referrals to provide a continuation of care for clients with providers who understand the intricacies of the fire service.

Behavioral Health in Retirement for Fire Service Members

This training on Thursday, May 13, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. (EST) will address retirement from the fire service, the potential implications on behavioral health and the importance of preparing for this significant life transition, both as a member approaching retirement and as someone who may act as critical support during this time. This webinar will discuss the realities of retirement among fire service members, including: 

  • Special considerations for transition
  • Planning for additional free time
  • Strategies for supporting others during this phase of life

Clinical Outreach Coordinator Molly Jones, LSW will be joined by Chris Fields, retired Major of Oklahoma City Local 157. Chris retired in March of 2017 after over 31 years of service. Since that time, Chris has dedicated himself to increasing awareness of the behavioral health needs of fire service and EMS personnel. He shares his story of recovery and personal growth across the country.

This webinar is intended for fire service members, administrators, spouses, family members and treatment providers. 

Substance Abuse and Cognitive Distortions

This training on Thursday, May 20, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. (EST) will focus on substance abuse in the fire service and the importance of addressing the unhelpful thought patterns that often fuel addiction. Also called cognitive distortions, these are flawed ways of thinking that fuel negative beliefs about oneself, others, the world, and the future. To address the root of substance abuse, one must often learn to identify their cognitive distortion and reframe unhelpful, sabotaging thoughts.   

Dr. Kristin Klimley, PsyD, of Tampa Bay Psychology will offer clinical insight gathered throughout her career as a Clinical Psychologist and Postdoctoral Fellow specializing in first responders and veteran care. This webinar will:

  • Introduce participants to the various types of substance use disorders and addictions experienced among members of the fire service
  • Define and identify the common cognitive distortions often experienced during the cycle of addiction
  • Provide practical ways to address these distortions and improve behavioral health outcomes.

Participation in this webinar will increase awareness of the potential for substance misuse within the fire service, help participants identify cognitive distortion, and provide strategies to improve self-talk and change unhelpful thinking patterns.

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