International Association of Fire Fighters Local 18   /   Vancouver Fire Rescue Services 

What if I'm struggling? I feel like I'm overwhelmed and need to talk to someone to sort this out? I want to change the way I seem to always react to this problem.

If you feel you need to talk to a mental health practitioner, here’s what you should know to set yourself up for success

1) Look and see what your coverage is. 

a. Do you have an Employee Assistance Program? What do they offer and how many sessions do they cover? 

b. Do you have extended benefits? What is your yearly coverage? Are Registered Clinical Counsellors (120 $ per hour) covered, or only Psychologists (175-200$ per hr)? How many sessions will your coverage get you?

2) Consider what you want to see a counsellor for. Is your problem to do with a relationship? Are you grieving a loss? Are you having a tough time shaking a bad call from a while back (trauma)? 
Each Mental Health Practitioner (MHP) has specialized fields of training. When you find a MHP that has a focus in the area you are needing help in you have a much better chance of seeing success as they have more experience dealing with that area.

Now that you know you want to talk to someone and what specialization you want, now what?

3) Talk to a trusted friend or a colleague and ask if they have ever seen a MHP that they had success with and would recommend.

4) Talk to your CISM / Peer Support team members... they typically get questions of referrals quite often and may be able to give you a few names to check out. 
When I give out referrals of counsellors I typically give out 3 names under the specific specialization and have the person who needs help go online and read about each practitioner’s style and biography at their own pace. Once you have narrowed it down to 1 or 2 of the MHPs call them and have a 15 minute conversation with them. Explain your situation and get a feel for how they are, how they interpret your situation, and if you feel comfortable talking to them and confident that they can help you. If it feels like a good fit set up an appointment; if the phone call isn't going well just call someone else. It’s all about finding a good fit; it might not happen the first time, or second time…just keep looking.

Once you set up an appointment, ensure you keep momentum going, make your follow-up appointments as soon as possible, as the further away from your last interaction the more likely you are going to go back to your old habits of dealing with things, and the less likely you are to make a follow-up appointment. If you feel that it isn’t a good fit after the first session or two, don’t be afraid to try someone else. It’s not that therapy isn’t working for you, it’s just this therapist isn’t a good fit for you. If you feel that therapy is working well in the beginning and stops being effective, don’t be afraid to talk to your MHP about that. Often switching things up in small ways can make a big difference.

If after reading this you realize that your issue may be that you are feeling suicidal, please contact someone. 
Crisis BC are there 24/7 to take your call @ 1800-Suicide
Crisis Centre BC