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FMHCA is a chapter of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, and is the only organization working exclusively for LMHCs in the State of Florida.

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Florida mental health COUNSELORS association

2101 Vista Parkway Ste 233 West Palm Beach Florida 33411 (P) 561-228-6129 (E) Office@FLMHCA.org


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Working with First Responders: Learning from a Counselors Lived Experience of Becoming a First Responder

  • 19 Feb 2024
  • 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Online (Zoom)
  • 67

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(depends on selected options)

Base fee:
  • Select this option if you are a FMHCA member who wants attendance to be reported to CE Broker for CEUs.
  • Select this option if you would like to attend this webinar, but you are not a member of FMHCA. If you request CEUs, your attendance will be reported to CE Broker.

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Description: First responders are a unique population that presents with unique needs. As a professional counsellor working with this population, cultural awareness is key to successfully working with these individuals and groups, whether it is through psychoeducational workshops, individual counseling, critical incident debriefings, or peer support programs. As a professional counsellor who developed the skills and awareness to specialize in working with first responders in private practice, Dr. Kirstin Dolby developed a resource for first responders as her dissertation project (www.friess.ca). She has utilized the various trainings and experiences working locally and internationally to develop a unique set of skills that have resulted in successful integration of effective treatments and preventative measures for first responders. Her current project includes becoming a first responder, integrating into the culture, and developing custom resources and presentations to meet the needs of local responders, specifically volunteer firefighters.  Even with extensive experience and training, Kirstin struggled to connect with the local fire department members, even with the support of the then Fire Chief. As a result, she sought a “win win” situation of applying, competing, and making the 2022 recruitment class. Dr. Kirstin Dolby has since successfully completed recruitment training and is a licensed EMA-FR, Level II Firefighter, and Wildland Firefighter in her home Province of British Columbia, Canada. In her presentation, she shares her experiences and insights into how other professional counsellors can develop the skills to effectively work with first responders in their communities, as well as develop appropriate cultural awareness strategies to provide support from the recruitment phase all the way up the chain of command. Effective resources and personal insights into her journey of being a professional counsellor, developing effective resources, and becoming a responder herself will be explored and shared.

CE Broker Tracking #: 20-1103398

This event is sponsored by FMHCA, an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider. FMHCA NBCC Provider# 2058. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified.  FMHCA is solely responsible for all aspects of the program. This course is approved by the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling, LMHC, LMFT, LCSW – FMHCA CE Broker #: 50-748

Learning Objectives:

  1. Provide information regarding cultural awareness of working with First Responders.
  2. Sharing the lived experience of counselling and becoming a First Responder.
  3. Equipping other professionals with insights and proven resources for providing effective care and support to First Responders.

About the Presenters:

Dr. Kirstin Dolby, PhD holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counselling, and a PhD in Counseling & Psychological Studies from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. Kirstin completed a Trauma Counselling Internship in India in 2016 with the Regent University Center for Trauma Studies. She is the Director of Head Strong Counselling Services & Academy of Traumatology Inc. and The Head Strong Project charity. She specializes in working with First Responders, individually through private practice, as well as organizationally through Firefighter Wellness Briefs.    Kirstin is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with BCACC, a Certified Canadian Counsellor with CCPA, a Certified First Responder Counselor with Academy Hour, Certified Clinical Traumatologist with the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology, and Certified EMDR Therapist. She specializes in working with survivors and first responders, including international deployments with her most recent deployment being to Cameroon, Africa in 2021. As of fall 2022, Kirstin primarily works as a full-time Faculty Lead at Yorkville University and as an Adjunct Professor for Regent University. She offers ongoing mental health support through direct referral for first responders, supervision of intern/practicum students, and training workshops in collaboration with other organizations such as Green Cross International and Foster Leadership.    Outside of the counselling office, Kirstin is a Courtenay Volunteer Fire Fighter Recruit as of 2022 and a BC Licensed Emergency Medical Assistant First Responder. She is scheduled to complete her recruitment training fall of 2023 with plans of joining the Courtenay Volunteer Fire Department to serve those in her own community. Kirstin lives in beautiful Courtenay, BC on Vancouver Island with her husband of twenty years and their four boys.  And, of course, in her “spare” time Kirstin can be found on the sidelines coaching her sons high school rugby team or in any region of the globe volunteering her time to help fill the gap in mental health care.




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