Breaking through the stigma

No matter how tough, no one is immune to the anguish that can build from a career of difficult calls.

All too often, we keep the anguish buried inside, afraid to be labeled as weak or unfit. "The 'suck it up, buttercup' mentality believes ... all you need to do is rub some dirt in it and get back out there." Thing is, the same line was used against SCBA, seat belts, turnouts and other safety equipment and practices that are saving firefighter lives. As with any injury, allowing this anguish to fester can lead to to unhealthy habits, behaviors and, sometimes, death.

It's time to break that stigma. Speaking up is not weakness ... it is the strongest, healthiest thing you can do. 

Where to go to find help

Crisis Lines

Safe Call Now - 1-206-459-3020

A 24/7 help line staffed by first responders for first responders and their family members. They can assist with treatment options for responders who are suffering from mental health, substance abuse and other personal issues.

Fire/EMS Helpline - 1-888-731-3473

Also known as Share the Load. A program run by the National Volunteer Fire Council. They have a help line, text based help services, and have a collection of resources for people looking for help and support.

Frontline Helpline - 1-866-676-7500

Run by Frontline Responder Services. Offer 24/7 coverage with first responder call-takers.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255

The national suicide hotline. Not first responder specific, but they can talk to anyone who needs help.

National Programs -- an online clearinghouse of information about firefighter post-traumatic stress, along with links to peer support resources offered by dozens of individual fire departments.

Local peer support programs -- More and more individual departments and local unions are bringing peer support into the firehouse. Best resource is to contact your local union. We're compiling a list and will update with additional local information as it becomes available.

Significant Others and Spouses -- Program from the First Responder Support Network aimed at helping family members of firefighters deal with family disruptions and issues arising from the stresses of the job.

IAFF Center for Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery -- Comprehensive in-patient recovery center exclusively geared to firefighters. Treatment of substance abuse, post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI), depression and other psychological injuries linked to the job. (READ: "Firefighters helping others learn to help themselves" -- Washington Post)

West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat -- Recovery center geared toward firefighters and law enforcement. Small-group treatment with intensive debrief and counseling, driven by peer support and geared toward needs of first responders. 

Rotary House Retreat -- Intensive outpatient retreat that provides first responders the opportunity to learn and practice new coping skills while improving personal and professional relationships. RHR focuses on substance abuse, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, sleep disturbances, and other stress - and trauma-related symptoms. 

Simple Recovery – First Responder Program — Simple Recovery offers First Responders trauma-informed substance abuse and co-occurring mental health treatment designed with the help of First Responder organizations, respected addiction and mental health professionals, and strategic community partners.

Regional Support Services

Northern California

Anthony Mills, MA, MFT:    
Location: 108A Siskiyou Ave, Mount Shasta CA 96067   
Phone: 530-925-2188       
Focus: Marriage Counseling

Michel G VanGordon: South Lake Tahoe Therapy   
Location: 3351 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA. 96150   
Phone: 530-318-1502    
Focus: First Responders

Pamela Pfitzer, MA, MFCC:    
Location: 775 Sunrise Avenue, Roseville, CA 95661   
Phone: 916-781-3402     
Focus: First Responders, PTSD, and family


Bay Area

Mountain Vista Farm
Location: 3020 Warm Springs Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442
Phone: 707-996-6716
Focus: Alcohol and substance abuse treatment facility, located in Sonoma County.

Dian Barkan:    
Location: 825 College Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95404   
Phone: 707-579-8044       
Focus: First Responders

Greg Burns:    
Location: Livermore, CA   
Phone: 925-223-7228     
Focus: Marriage & Family Counseling

Dr. Mary Dinerman, MD:    
Location: 101 Gregory Lane, #33, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523   
Phone: 925-939-7560     
Focus: Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Joel Fay: West Coast Trauma Retreat   
Location: San Rafael, CA   
Phone: 415-720-6653  
Focus: First Responders

Richard Giovannoli, PhD:    
Location: 874 Gravenstein Hwy S., Suite 12, Sebastopol, CA 95472   
Phone: 707-824-8834     
Focus: Marriage, First Responders

Carlos Harvey: Oakland Fire   
Location: Station 20   
Phone: 510-238-4020   
Focus: First Responders CISM

Dr. Dana Nussbaum, PhD, EMDR:    
Location: 1683 Novato Blvd, Suite 1B, Novato, CA 94947    
Phone: 415-484-1473   
Focus: First Responders

Barry Pierce, M.D.: 
Location:  1260 N. Dutton Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401    
Phone: 707-525-9045       
Focus: Psychopharmacology, Psychiatrist level counseling

Esther Trevino, MTF:    
Location: 2020 Forest Ave, San Jose, CA 95128   
Phone: 408-896-4585     
Focus: PTSD, Marriage/Family Therapy


Central Valley

David Black: Cordico    
Location: 2377 Gold Meadow Way, Gold River, CA 95670   
Phone: 844-267-3426       
Focus: First Responders 

Melissa Freitas: Freitas Therapy   
Location: 5180 Grove Street, Rocklin CA 95677   
Phone: 916-634-0342       
Focus: First Responders, Marriage and Family

Nancy Grant, LCS:    
Location: 1640 Tehama Street, Redding, CA 96001    
Phone: 530-241-3411       
Focus: Family, Depression

Dr. Sharon Johnson, PHD:   
Location: 1111 E Herndon Ave # 306, Fresno, CA 93720   
Phone: 559-440-0112     
Focus: Clinical Psychology

Kenneth Katz:
Location: 6235 N. Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93710    
Phone: 559-349-0238     
Focus: First Responders

Sunny Mueller:
Location: 3200 21st Street, Suite 101, Bakersfield, CA 93301    
Phone: 661-563-0638     
Focus: First Responders

Jocelyn Roland, PhD, ABPP:     
Location: 2937 Veneman Ave # B125, Modesto, CA 95356   
Phone: 209-521-8400   
Focus: Police and Public Safety

Dr. Chet Sunde:    
Location: 1302 Oregon Street, Redding, CA 96001   
Phone: 530-244-4436        
Focus: Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress


Central Coast

Kimberly Miller, MS:   
Location: 3220 South Higuera Street, Ste 306, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401   
Phone: 805-235-1585     
Focus: First Responders, PTSD, Marriage/Parenting Counseling

At Ease   
Location: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura    
Phone: 844-727-3911      
Focus: First Responders

Samantha Tamburro: Engage Therapy   
Location: 60 Hampshire Road, Suite 100, Westlake Village, CA 91361   
Phone: 805-497-0605      
Focus: Individual, Family, Couples, Child & Adolescent, Substance Abuse

Frederick Cohen, MFT:    
Location: 5743 Corsa Avenue, Suite 103, Westlake Village, CA 91362   
Phone: 805-490-4990        
Focus: Marriage Counseling

Dr. Cooper-Bryam, PhD: Shores Counseling Center    
Location: 4531 Market Street, Ventura, CA 93003   
Phone: 805-658-0475     
Focus: Clinical Psychology


Los Angeles County

Dr. Duggan & Associates
Location: 4137 E. 7th St Long Beach, CA 90804-5311
Phone: 562-433-8152
Focus: Multi-disciplinary counseling provider, working with Long Beach Fire Department. 

Dr. Steve Frolich: LAFD Local 112   
Location: 1314 Westwood Blvd., Suite 101, Los Angeles, CA 90024   
Phone: (310) 474-4108 
Focus: Peer counseling team

Susan Harris MFT: Harris Marriage and Family Therapy   
Location: 731 Beach Blvd, La Habra, CA 90631   
Phone: 562-690-4060       
Focus: Marriage and Family

Anne Kellogg: Chiron Center, Inc.   
Location: 455 North Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210   
Phone: 310-701-1140        
Focus: First Responders

Cameron Wardlaw:    
Location: 10153 1/2 Riverside Drive 295, Toluca Lake, CA 91602   
Phone: 818-618-9273        
Focus: First Responders


Inland Empire

At Ease
Location: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura
Phone: 844-727-3911   
Focus: First Responders

Chaplain Steve Ballinger: Living Shield
Location: Riverside CA  
Phone: 951-683-7878  
Focus: First Responders, Initial PTSD type incidents

John Davis: Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs 
Location: 27919 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 203, Temecula, CA 92590  
Phone: 951-514-7450  
Focus: PTS for soldiers, police, and firefighters

Cathy Glassner, M.A./LMFT: Aurora Family Counseling Center 
Location: 24977 Washington Ave., Suite K, Murrieta, CA 92562  
Phone: 951-677-1470  
Focus: Firefighters/Military

Juan Gonzalez: Riverside University Health System   
Location: 26520 Cactus Avenue, Moreno Valley, CA 92555   
Phone: 951-486-4000        
Focus: Alcohol, depression, anxiety, family issues

Dr. Jonathan Mills, Ed.D:   
Location: 4160 Temescal Canyon Rd #309, Corona, CA 92883   
Phone: 951-833-1527        
Focus: First Responders, individual counseling

Jody Ruggiero MA, LMFT: Riverside University Health Systems
Location: 880 N. State Street, Hemet, CA 92543   
Phone: 951-791-3031     
Focus: MFT, EMDR, Drug Counseling, Domestic Violence

Stacy Sanderson: Foothill Psychological   
Location: 954 West Foothill Blvd, Ste. A, Upland, CA 91786   
Phone: 909-946-4222   
Focus: Marriage & Family

Steve Wysocki, PhD: Alta Loma Psychological Associates   
Location: 9089 Baseline Road, Suite 200, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730   
Phone: 909-980-3567   
Focus: Family Counseling


Orange County

Simple Recovery – First Responder Program
Location: 1901 Newport Blvd #200, Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Phone: 888-743-0490
Focus: First Responders


San Diego County

First Alarm Wellness
Location: 138 Civic Center Dr., Vista, CA 92084
Phone: (760) 650-4128
Focus: San Diego-based clinical and peer-support services, specializing in first responders, PTSI, military.

At Ease   
Location: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura    
Phone: 844-727-3911    
Focus: First Responders

Catherine Butler Ed. D, LMFT: Butler Therapy, Inc.   
Location: 4582 Palm Ave., La Mesa, CA 91941   
Phone: 619-644-1788   
Focus: First Responders, Family/ Marriage

Sara Gilman, PsyD, LMFTCoherence Associates, Inc.   
Location: 721 N. Vulcan Avenue., Suite 108, Encinitas, CA 92024   
Phone: 760-942-8663   
Focus: PTSD, Couples & Marriage Counseling

Danielle Hering: Thru the Heart   
Location: 1054 2nd Street, Encinitas, CA 92024   
Phone: 760-814-4497        
Focus: PTSD, Relationships

Emily Hunter: First Alarm Wellness   
Location: 138 Civic Center Drive, Vista CA 92084   
Phone: 760-650-4128      
Focus: First Responders

Kaiser : Psychiatry   
Location: San Diego   
Phone: 877-496-0450    
Focus: Family Therapy

Raymond Mcintyre, MFT: Santee Family Counseling Center   
Location: 9905 Prospect Ave., Santee, CA. 92071   
Phone: 619-449-9937    
Focus: Individual, Relationship, Children, Adults, PTSD.

Judi Schaim, MFT:    
Location: 3033 5th Avenue, Suite 220, San Diego, CA 92103   
Phone: 619-298-5536        
Focus: Marriage & Family Counseling

Matt Shobert, MA, EFO, CFO, MIFireE:   
Location: San Diego, CA   
Phone: 619-987-8139 
Focus: First Responders

Miranda Bowersox, MFT
Location: 100 E. San Macros Blvd., Suite 400, San Marcos, CA 92069
Phone: 760-566-7738
Focus: First Responders, Family/ Marriage