Psychological support for current and former police officers, first responders and their families

Our psychologists have been working extensively with members of the police force over the last decade.

We understand the challenges of your work and we know how to provide the support you need to thrive again.

“I’m not feeling my usual self and I’m not sure why?”

At our psychology practice here in Perth, we often work with police officers and other first responders and the first thing people say to us is, “I’m not feeling my usual self and I’m not sure why?”

You may feel angry, or you may find that you are not able to control your emotions. That is often the start of a search for professional help.

The fact is, you work in challenging conditions and your job regularly exposes you to potentially traumatic events that can impact your mental health and wellbeing so it makes sense that you might not feel your usual self at times, or notice a decline over a period of time. As a police officer and other first responders, you were chosen for your role because you were resilient, however, resilience isn’t static, it ebbs and flows depending on what you are exposed to and how you deal with the stressors of the job.

Results from a Beyond Blue study, found that more than half of all employees, and two in three volunteers in first responder organisations have high levels of resilience. However, police and emergency workers are more than twice as likely to experience high or very high rates of psychological distress compared to the general population.

Employees who have over 10 years of service are almost twice as likely to experience psychological distress. They are also six times more likely to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dr. Tarmala Caple

Psychologist Perth

The recommendation in the Beyond Blue study is clear: each police and emergency service agency should develop an organisational mental health and wellbeing strategy.

When should I seek help?

But what if you feel unsure talking about your mental health within your organisation? You wouldn’t be the first police officer or first responder who worries about the impact on your career if you seek help. You can seek help outside your organisation if this concerns you.

If you’ve sought help before and it didn’t feel right or the psychologist didn’t get you, there are other options.

Our psychologists here at The Wellbeing Psychologist in Perth understand policing and the emergency services sector, but we are not part of it. We are genuine, down to earth, easy to talk to, and have lots of varied life experiences as we have all had other careers before becoming psychologists.

Dr. Tarmala Caple

Psychologist Perth

We often receive feedback that our no-nonsense style is much appreciated as we don’t use ‘psycho-babble’ or just sit there and listen, instead we offer hands-on practical solutions and are able to explain what’s happening and why. You also appreciate the fact that many of our psychologists have lots of life experience, which helps you feel more comfortable sharing what you are going through.

You don’t have to over-explain issues. We get it because we’ve worked in the police force, other law enforcement agencies or military organisations. Therapy is like any other relationship, it has to be a good fit. Not all psychologists are suited for all people.

Dr. Tarmala Caple

Psychologist Perth

Here’s an overview of our team members and their work experience.

Dr Tarmala Caple: former police officer and police psychologist, many years supporting the wellbeing of police officers in high-risk police units and providing psychological therapy for critical incident stress and trauma.

Alicia Authelet: has worked with the Australian Navy and Australian Federal Police and holds a degree in applied organisational psychology with an interest in workplace wellbeing and stress.

Sam Hubble: former Border Force Officer and has worked in unsworn roles in policing and other law enforcement roles. Sam is currently on maternity leave.

Is this you?

Our psychologists work with current serving police officers, former officers, family members and other first responders, including volunteers. Here is a list of issues that people commonly seek support for.

    Police officers & other first responders

    • stress due to excessive workloads or interpersonal difficulties in the workplace
    • sleep issues and/or nightmares
    • frequently feeling short-tempered, impatient and/or experiencing anger outbursts
    • emotional numbness and feeling detached from loved ones
    • trouble relaxing or switching off due to constantly feeling on edge
    • feeling overwhelmed by waves of panic or anxiety which seems to come out of the blue
    • feeling overly emotional and having difficulty controlling them
    • flashbacks when reminded of certain people, places or jobs you’ve been to
    • excessive worry about family or children
    • increased drinking or the need to drink to relax or get to sleep
    • thoughts of death or suicide
    • uncertainty about leaving the job

    Former police officers & first responders

    • loss of identity since leaving
    • feeling disconnected from family and others
    • loss of meaning and purpose in life
    • haunted by memories of incidents you have attended
    • grief and loss of your career, especially if due to injury
    • adjusting to life post service

    Police & first responder families

    • adjustment to service life and the demands of their partner’s job
    • communication and interpersonal issues
    • feeling shut out by their service member
    • unsure how to help when you know something isn’t right
    • looking after yourself when trying to support their service member
    • stress of adjusting to a new town/location

    Why is good mental health important for police officers and first responders?

    Due to the chronic stress, shift work and regular exposure to potentially traumatic events police officers and first responders are at higher risk of

     

    • burnout
    • depression
    • anxiety disorders
    • PTSD
    • alcohol use disorders
    • health issues – weight issues, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease
    • sleep disorders
    • relationship breakdown

    Because of self-stigma, and the reluctance to seek help, many first responders and emergency service workers experience PTSD and other trauma-related conditions for many years before it’s recognised and treated.

        Police culture and those of other emergency service organisations promote emotional detachment, toughness, stoicism and control, which although necessary, undermines your mental wellbeing in the long term. Although being this way helps you do the job, it reduces help-seeking and accessing support when needed. This leads to more distress in the long run. The key is knowing how and when to turn these attributes on and off.

        Dr. Tarmala Caple

        Psychologist Perth

        Maintaining good health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally, supports resilience. The job will change you but it doesn’t have to break you. It’s how we cope with the daily stressors that make the difference.

        We offer a range of wellbeing services from psychological therapies and resilience skills training. All are evidence-based, practical, and action-oriented to meet the needs of first responders.

        Don’t need therapy but want to perform at your best, we can help you develop skills to manage stress and boost your resilience. For example, learning relaxation techniques and neuro-reset strategies will help build physical and psychological resilience as your heart rate is constantly elevated during a shift which in the long term is not beneficial to health. Mindfulness skills are also a great resilience skill that can help with managing stress and improving your performance too.

        The Wellbeing Psychologist’s practice is a safe place for (current and former) police officers, their families and first responders. We’re here for you and look forward to helping you, face-to-face or via Telehealth.

        If you are working in a regional location, are over east, or are not available to come into our practice, we provide services via video that are easy to set up. A video therapy session is similar to an in-person one and just as effective. Some people report they feel more comfortable talking via video as it reduces the stigma they feel having to attend a psychology clinic.

        You can make a booking via our website and we look forward to being of service. Pun intended.

            Dr Tarmala Caple, The Wellbeing Psychologist

            I’ve spent over 20 years helping people live life to their full potential and have extensive experience in supporting individuals’ manage general psychological issues, overcome challenges and setbacks, and improve their life.

            We’re committed to building a friendly and collaborative relationship with people so they feel understood and supported. We use an individualised approach to suit your preferences, personality, and lifestyle.

            Our motto is “working together to find what works for you”.

            Dr Tarmala Caple

            Not sure which session to book? Send us an enquiry and we’ll be in touch!