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Treating Psychological Trauma in First Responders: A Multi-Modal Paradigm


Responding to critical incidents may result in 5.9–22 % of first responders developing psychological trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder. These impacts may be physical, mental, and/or behavioral. This population remains at risk, given the daily occurrence of critical incidents. Current treatments, primarily focused on combat and rape victims, have included single and double interventions, which have proven helpful to some but not all victims and one standard of care has remained elusive. However, even though the need is established, research on the treatment interventions of first responders has been limited. Given the multiplicity of impacts from psychological trauma and the inadequacies of responder treatment intervention research thus far, this paper proposes a paradigmatic shift from single/double treatment interventions to a multi-modal approach to first responder victim needs. A conceptual framework based on psychological trauma is presented and possible multi-modal interventions selected from the limited, extant first responder research are utilized to illustrate how the approach would work and to encourage clinical and experimental research into first responder treatment needs.

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Correspondence to Raymond B. Flannery Jr..

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Flannery, R.B. Treating Psychological Trauma in First Responders: A Multi-Modal Paradigm. Psychiatr Q 86, 261–267 (2015).

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  • First responders
  • Multi-modal approach
  • Paradigm shift
  • Psychological trauma
  • Treatment interventions