Therapy for First Responders Calgary

Takeaway: As you likely know from personal experience, first responders face special stressors and challenges, both personally and professionally. Having mental health care that’s tailor-made for your situation can give you the support you’re looking for. Get in touch with our therapists for first responders today.

first responder counseling

Many first-responders suffer in silence. We help first responders cope with stress, process traumatic experiences, and overcome their struggles.

First responders such as police officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, peace officers, emergency medical technicians, military personnel, corrections officers, and even social workers are often subjected to emotionally unsettling experiences that can develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

As dedicated therapists for first responders, we address the silent struggles they endure. Our specialized therapy supports police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and others dealing with the emotional toll of their roles, helping them navigate stress, process trauma, and overcome challenges unique to their professions.

At Shelly Qualtieri & Associates, our confidential counselling in Calgary provides a space for first responders to cope with job-related experiences, ensuring emotional well-being amid the complexities they face daily.

The life of a first responder can be difficult, and being work-related, this is often hard for other people to truly understand. Our first responder counselling in Northwest and Southwest Calgary, Alberta, is here to help. Learn more about us here.

counseling for first responders

Does this sound like you?

The impact of traumatic incidents experienced at work has a far-reaching effect on first responders, their families, and the communities they serve.

First responders are put through many situations that could be traumatic or difficult to deal with, and the effects of this can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the following symptoms, mental health counselling in Calgary may be beneficial:

Some of the common symptoms and behavioural concerns include:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Suicide or suicidal ideation

  • Substance abuse and self-medication

  • Anger management issues

Symptoms can vary over time and from person to person and may include:

Intrusive Memories

Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event

Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)

Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)

Avoidance and numbing

Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma

Inability to remember important aspects and the personal history of the trauma

Loss of interest in activities and life in general

Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb

Negative thoughts and mood changes

Guilt, shame, or self-blame

Feeling alienated and alone

Feelings of mistrust and betrayal

Difficulty concentrating or remembering things


Physical and emotional reactions:

Sleep disorders

Irritability, angry outbursts, self-destructive, or reckless behaviour

Feeling jumpy and easily startled

If you or a first responder you care about is having difficulty coping with their mental health, we encourage you to reach out to our team of clinicians and psychologists at Shelly Qualtieri & Associates. Members of our team specialize in training and other resources for first responder psychotherapy, supporting the first responder community. We can help you begin the journey of healing.

If you think you or your spouse might need some help, contact us, and we would be happy to arrange for you to see one of our skilled therapists and share more about our services.


first responder mental health


Our approach to first responder counselling

Our therapists are trained in a variety of therapies and will often use a combination of different approaches to help people overcome conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, eating disorders, burnout, and more.

There are several effective treatment methods for dealing with trauma or PTSD. Your therapist will discuss with you the best options for your own circumstances. Some treatment methods that are typically successful in treating PTSD include:


EMDR appears to approach psychological issues in an unusual way. It does not rely on talk therapy or medications. Instead, EMDR uses a person's own rapid, rhythmic eye movements to dampen the power of emotionally charged memories of past traumatic events and help overcome them using a person's own power. EMDR is an evidence-based treatment for trauma and PTSD that has also been shown to be effective in treating other psychological conditions, such as:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Panic attacks

  • Eating disorders

  • Phobias​

  • Pain

Cognitive behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT training, or cognitive behavioural therapy, focuses on helping people challenge unhelpful and negative patterns of thinking such as overgeneralizing, overthinking negatives, minimizing positives, and catastrophizing while replacing them with more realistic and constructive thoughts. CBT is done by a trained psychologist who helps you become aware of your unhealthy thought patterns, beliefs, and emotions. The therapist then helps you reshape your thinking to develop more constructive and healthy ways of looking at your past, present, and future.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT is a form of therapy that is specifically designed to encourage people to accept their situation, thoughts, behaviours, and feelings instead of trying to avoid them or feel guilty about them. Acceptance and commitment therapy helps people open up to and accept their circumstances and learn to move forward. Acceptance and Commitment therapy has been effectively used to treat social anxiety, job performance anxiety, workplace stress, OCD, PTSD, and chronic pain.

Solution-focused therapy (SFT)

Solution-focused therapy is a type of therapy that empowers a person to use their own reasoning and strength to overcome their struggles. Instead of the traditional therapy approach that focuses on where the problem originated, solution-focused therapy is forward-looking and focuses on goals and problem solving. Solution-focused therapy can help people with:

  • Work or School Stress

  • Performance Anxiety

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Social Anxiety

  • Confidence

  • Motivation

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Emotional Freedom Technique relaxes the sensation of being triggered, bringing calmness to the mind and the body. The diversity of successful treatments has ranged from trauma, self-sabotaging behaviour patterns, cravings, and physical and/or first responder mental health illness itself, to name but a few. EFT is a holistic healing technique that has been shown to effectively resolve a range of issues, including trauma, substance abuse, problem gambling, phobias, chronic pain, PTSD, stress, limiting beliefs, physical and/or mental health, or mental health illness itself, self-sabotaging behaviour patterns, chronic stress, and more. ​


Mindfulness is a state in which you are solely focused on the present. Psychologists use mindfulness-based techniques to encourage present-moment awareness while assisting you in keeping your thoughts intentional and non-judgmental because lingering negative thoughts or emotions that typically stem from either past or future events are the root cause of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and some other mental health issues. Mindfulness can help people with:

  • Depression

  • Suicidal Ideation

  • Work and life stress

  • PTSD

  • Chronic health issues

  • Grief

Reach out today to learn more.

first responder therapy

How our first responder mental health services can help

Therapy for First Responders can be helpful in managing work and life stress and the pressures of your full-time role.

Your first session will involve an initial assessment of your well-being as well as an intake of your personal history and background. Subsequent therapy sessions are 50 minutes in length and are unique to each individual's treatment plan.

This is an important consideration, as each person's experience in therapy will be different and may depend on factors like:

  • Level of overall wellness

  • Emotional state, stability, risk-taking, or other behaviours

  • Life circumstances, support systems, romantic relationship status, if there are dependent children, employment status, and the type of profession are all factors that can be considered protective or stressors

  • Prior experience in therapy is also a factor. No one wants to waste their time repeating something that they found unhelpful the first time around, which is why it is important to tailor treatment to individual needs

Police Officers

Police officers are often exposed to tragic scenes and situations, including losing a partner, witnessing violent or graphic situations, or even being threatened. Our team of psychologists can help you process your experiences and move past them.

Medical Responders

Even though paramedics and EMTs are trained to respond to medical issues, traumatic injuries, or accident scenes, being exposed to them frequently can take its toll. Therapy can help you process difficult situations and gain valuable coping skills to continue serving the community and saving lives.

Psychological Support for Firefighters

Being a firefighter can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, firefighters are heroic and integral members of society, and because of that, they often face tragic incidents. Our team of therapists can help process grief, horror, anxiety, trauma, or depression.

Doctors and Nurses

Doctors and nurses have come out as the heroes of the COVID-19 crises, during which they have kept all of us safe. However, working with the sick and injured on a daily basis, along with their well-being, can lead to burnout and, oftentimes, emotional distress. We can help you discuss how you deal with and manage stress, including the stress and pressure of working as well as being a doctor or nurse.

Grief Counselling

Sadly, firefighters and police officers are sometimes lost in the line of duty, and their friends and families have to cope with the grief that comes with that tragic loss. In these situations, emotions can be so overwhelming that they feel overpowering. We offer grief counselling to help process losses and find ways to manage them.

Despite more talk about mental health care, you may still feel resistance to seeking help, and these are some of the challenges:


There is still a stigma associated with mental health issues in many communities. This can make it difficult for first responders to seek help, as they may be worried about how their colleagues or employers will perceive them.

Limited access to mental health services

Some first responders may work in rural areas or areas with limited mental health resources. This can make it difficult for them to access therapy, especially if they are dealing with scheduling conflicts or other barriers to care.

Time constraints

First responders may have demanding schedules that make it difficult for them to attend therapy sessions. This can be especially true of counseling for first responders and those who work irregular hours or are frequently on call.

Financial concerns

Some first responders may not have access to affordable mental health services. This can be a barrier to care, especially for those who do not have health insurance or whose insurance does not cover services.

Concerns about confidentiality

First responders may be concerned about their privacy and confidentiality when seeking therapy. They may worry that their colleagues or employers will find out about or address their mental health issues, which could impact their job performance or their career.

Our office is conveniently located in North West Calgary. Can’t make it into the office? No worries—we’ve got you covered with online therapy across Alberta.

therapist for first responders

FAQs about working with a therapist for first responders

first responders therapy

Put your mental health first with first-responder therapy in Calgary.

You don't have to face your struggles alone.

Shelly Qualtieri & Associates is a place where first responders and their families can receive help and resources.

We believe that change is possible, and we want you to know it as well. Together, we can open the door to a new chapter of wellness, happiness, and stability.

At Shelly Qualtieri & Associates, we not only help and support first responders but also work with children 10 and older, teens, adults, individuals, couples, families, and athletes struggling with grief & loss, addiction, stress, depression, trauma, PTSD, suicide ideation, and self-harm.

If you are ready to look forward to the next day and the days, months, and years after that, let us help you!

Click here to schedule your free 30-minute phone consultation for therapy in Calgary and across Alberta. We are here to help.

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