Finding the Right Therapist

National Emergency Responder and Public Safety Center™

For emergency responders, public safety personnel, and their families, finding the right therapist is critical. The right person can help build trust, break down barriers, and provide the support you need. Here are some tips to help find the right person for you:

Research your Coverage:

  • Does your agency already provide free or reduced-cost counseling resources? Many departments are starting to contract with therapists that specialize in emergency responder and public safety personnel care. If you’re unsure, usually your Human Resources department can help.
  • If not, do you have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? They too, often provide free or reduced-cost counseling services.
  • How about your existing health insurance? Sometimes you can get counseling care for the price of a co-pay.

Finding the Right Fit:

  • It’s worth the extra time to find a therapist that has experience with emergency responders and public safety personnel.
    Most therapists and psychologists have online bios that include special certifications, interests, and even their background and hobbies.
  • Certifications to watch for include:
    • American Board of Police and Public Safety Psychology (ABPPSP) Specialist: Due to their training and knowledge, a therapist with this specialty will eliminate the need for you to explain your role as a public servant. They will already have an understanding of the unique challenges that come with a public safety career. Find more information here:
    • Emergency Responder and Public Safety Clinician Certification™ (ERPSCC™): Therapists with this certification will be trauma-informed and culturally competent in working with emergency responders and public safety personnel. Their education and experience allows for an understanding of the work you do, the stressors that accompany it, and the culture surrounding these professions.
  • If your need isn’t work-related, you can still use these tips to find someone that specializes in your particular concern. Whether it is trauma, depression, relationship problems, or parenting issues…the right fit is out there for you!
  • Still unsure? Meet them face-to-face and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Therapists ALSO understand the need for a good fit. They should be happy to answer any questions you have and provide any documentation necessary to make you feel at ease.