Currently, Fairlie is a mental health clinician within the Responder Assist program and is a member of the Responder Assist Specialist Network of Clinicians (SNC).
“First responders are an interesting, driven and passionate group of people and working with them, it’s not enough just to be a clinician. You must know the lay of the land and demonstrate, as best you can, that you understand the world of the first responder,” says Fairlie.
“Many clients may also bring 20 or 30 years’ worth of exposures to hundreds and hundreds of critical incidents, so clinicians may be dealing with clients with more complex trauma. There is also the added layer of organisational issues that can exist anywhere, but can prove more challenging in first responder settings.”
SNC members are vetted by Phoenix Australia to ensure they are delivering best practice, evidence-based therapies for working with first responders and that they have the appropriate clinical experience. Some clinicians are, or were, first responders and so bring an additional element of experience and expertise.
“Many members are in private practice and when a client is referred to Responder Assist, we contact the clinician and say we have got someone who we think fits your area of expertise and we line up the client and the clinician,” says Fairlie.
“Clients can be reassured they are seeing a clinician who is passionate about first responder mental health, who is thoroughly informed about evidence-based best practice care, and who has the network behind them who can support them with any questions or concerns.”
For the clinician, benefits of being part of the SNC are support from the Community of Practice. Regular virtual meetings are an opportunity for members to discuss particularly challenging cases and to get ideas and advice from other members.
“It can be isolating to be in private practice and to work with first responders with complex cases and to feel that a lot of the risk of the client sits with you,” says Fairlie. “Knowing support is available through the SNC is very reassuring.”