Treatment, where
healing begins.

The multi-faceted program at First Responders First is designed to synergistically prepare the resident to pursue a life worth living. When a resident invests their time and energy in the recovery program at FRF, they'll be equipped to re-start their work and personal lives with confidence, sobriety, and hope for a better future.  

Featured Treatments

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
Detoxification
Individual Therapy
Group Therapy
Family Therapy
Aftercare
12 Step Facilitation
Equine Therapy
Wolf Therapy
Yoga, Meditation & Mindfulness
Independent Reading Program
Expressive Art Therapy
Medication Management

Overview

The treatment modality at First Responders First can best be describe as “milieu therapy”. In other words, an environment is cultivated that integrates physical, mental and emotional aspects of recovery through carefully designed physical layout, safe and effective therapeutic processes, and care and respect given to all involved in the treatment process. Physical, mental and emotional health are supported by healthy daily living practices, supervised medical care, proper nutrition, and individualized treatment planning to meet the diverse needs of the residents. In milieu therapy, it is to be noted that the relationships among the residents and staff have the dynamic of cohesiveness and safety, and healing occurs not only through clinical interventions, but through caring and supportive relationships among all persons in the environment. At FRF there is even an allowance of service animals to be a part of the treatment.

Clinical Components of Treatment

The daily regimen starts with meditation and mindfulness practices, focus questions for each resident to be aware of their personal and treatment goals, and a check-in to the resident’s current mental status. An individualized treatment plan is created for each resident with their doctor, and when necessary, residents may be placed on a detox protocol. We strive to get each resident fully involved in the treatment program as much—and as soon—as possible.  Substantial clinical intervention comes through group therapy and other group activities (e.g. art expression, yoga, physical exercise) as well as family therapy, EMDR and other individual therapies, and outdoor experiential activities. 

Group therapy provides a platform from which residents are educated on their mental and emotional processes, and they are provided opportunities for exploring and resolving underlying cognitive and emotional distortions. Various modalities are employed in this process including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and others, both experiential and educational, to give the residents a well-rounded exposure to a number of treatment modalities.

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories (Shapiro, 1989a, 1989b). Shapiro’s (2001) Adaptive Information Processing model posits that EMDR therapy facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic memories and other adverse life experience to bring these to an adaptive resolution. After successful treatment with EMDR therapy, affective distress is relieved, negative beliefs are reformulated, and physiological arousal is reduced. During EMDR therapy the client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Therapist directed lateral eye movements are the most commonly used external stimulus but a variety of other stimuli including hand-tapping and audio stimulation are often used (Shapiro, 1991).

Detoxification

Detoxification or detoxication ("detox" for short) is the physiological or medicinal removal of toxic substances from a living organism, including the human body, which is mainly carried out by the liver. Additionally, it can refer to the period of withdrawal during which an organism returns to homeostasis after long-term use of an addictive substance. In medicine, detoxification can be achieved by decontamination of poison ingestion and the use of antidotes as well as techniques such as dialysis and (in a limited number of cases) chelation therapy.

Individual Therapy

Each resident gets an Individualized Treatment Plan tailored specifically to their needs. Therapy is a joint process between a therapist and a person in therapy. Common goals of therapy can be to inspire change or improve quality of life. People may seek therapy for help with issues that are hard to face alone. Residents are seen individually each week either for psychotherapy or specialized EMDR processing. Residents are given the opportunity to focus in depth on their personal agenda and address issues for which they are not comfortable sharing in group settings.

Group Therapy

As a group-based treatment program, the most fundamental group processes are aimed at facilitating grief and loss, trauma resolution, skill-building, and self-care. Grief and Loss Groups start with education on the grief process, awareness of the various kinds of loss (including the impact of trauma as loss) and application of competent grieving processes (identification, emotional externalization, cognitive restructuring, forgiveness, etc.) that lead the resident through the grief cycle to acceptance and relief from emotional pain. The chief resource is the Grief Recovery Handbook. While groups may have different components or themes, most of them are related to trauma and grief recovery, trigger management and relapse prevention. Psycho-Educational Groups focus on developmental psychology and self-concept/identity formation, etiology of emotions, especially anger (guilt/resentment), sadness and fear, and concepts of addiction, trust, etc. All groups have to potential for experiential intervention which are designed to raise awareness, externalize negative emotions and improve mood states. 

Family Therapy

Family therapy is key to recovery. We set the stage during an inpatient residency, and give people the tools to continue the work once they go home. Couple and family therapy is offered to residents and their families when it is feasible for the family members to visit the facility. 

In normal times, we do family visitation. Now we do zoom too. We want to include family—which can be critically effective in treatment—because it's a connection to the outside arena, the life a resident wants to get back to and live in in a happy healthy way.

Aftercare

FRF has a network of providers and resources around the state and the country for support to graduates of the program. A recent addition to FRF is an Intensive Outpatient Service opening soon in Los Angeles. Recently, a Zoom Recovery Support group has started so that graduates can attend virtual meetings and stay connected with their peers and the staff from FRF. 

12 Step Facilitation

Twelve-step facilitation therapy is an active engagement strategy designed to increase the likelihood of a substance abuser becoming affiliated with and actively involved in 12-step self-help groups, thereby promoting abstinence. Three key ideas predominate: (1) acceptance, which includes the realization that drug addiction is a chronic, progressive disease over which one has no control, that life has become unmanageable because of drugs, that willpower alone is insufficient to overcome the problem, and that abstinence is the only alternative; (2) surrender, which involves giving oneself over to a higher power, accepting the fellowship and support structure of other recovering addicted individuals, and following the recovery activities laid out by the 12-step program; and (3) active involvement in 12-step meetings and related activities.

Equine Therapy

Equine therapy, also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), is a treatment that includes equine activities and/or an equine environment in order to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in persons suffering from ADD, Anxiety, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Depression, Developmental Delay, Genetic Syndromes (such as Down Syndrome), traumatic brain injuries, behavioral issues, abuse issues, and many other mental health problems.  Equine Therapy can help the individual build confidence, self- efficiency, communication, trust, perspective, social skills, impulse control, and learn boundaries.  Since the horses have similar behaviors with humans, such as social and responsive behaviors, it is easy for the patients to create a connection with the horse.  Riders with disabilities demonstrate their remarkable accomplishments in national and international sport riding competitions. Equine-Assisted Therapies have been recognized in the medical and mental health  field by most major countries.

Wolf Therapy

The long-standing relationship between humans and wolves is recognized by Native American Indians and now finally recognized in the world of substance abuse addiction treatment. Particularly useful for veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of combat, wolf-assisted therapy utilizes trained wolves or wolf-dogs (animals that were bred between wolves and dogs) to help clients overcome co-occurring disorders associated with substance use disorders.

Yoga, Meditation & Mindfulness

Yoga Therapy, often referred to as Healing Yoga, adapts the practice of yoga to the needs of people with specific or persistent health problems. It is highly effective at helping people reduce symptoms, restore movement, increase vitality and improve confidence.

Along with Yoga and Meditation, we incorporate mindfulness, which is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it.

Independent Reading Program

Depending on the resident’s primary focus in treatment, selected books are assigned for independent reading to assist the resident in gaining a better understanding of his treatment issues and process. For those dealing primarily with alcohol, The ALCOHOL EXPERIMENT: a 30-day alcohol-free challenge to interrupt your habits and help you take control, by Annie Grace is assigned for daily reading. THIS NAKED MIND, also by Annie Grace is given as additional reading. Specific books for law enforcement: EMOTIONAL SURVIVAL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT, by Kevin Gilmartin, and books related to fire service are provided to firefighters. THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, by Don Miguel Ruiz is used to reinforce the concepts illustrated in the psycho-educational groups. The residents are routinely asked to share their progress in reading and discuss points made in their reading during the book study groups. 12-Step recovery literature is available to all who want it, and the concepts of 12-Step theory are integrated into the treatment program. 

Expressive Art Therapy

Expressive arts therapy combines psychology and the creative process to promote emotional growth and healing. This multi-arts, or intermodal, approach to psychotherapy and counseling uses our inborn desire to create—be it music, theater, poetry, dance, or other artistic form—as a therapeutic tool to help initiate change. The difference between expressive arts therapy and art therapy is that expressive arts therapy draws from a variety of art forms, while art therapy tends to be based on one particular art form.

Medication Management

Medication management is a level of outpatient treatment that involves the initial evaluation of the patient's need for psychotropic medications, the provision of a prescription, and ongoing medical monitoring related to the patient’s use of the psychotropic medication by a qualified physician/prescriber. Medication management includes monitoring, reconciling medications, and ensuring patients get the desired outcomes. It requires a thorough review of prescribed drugs and their possible side effects to create treatment plans and monitor their safety and efficacy.

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