First Responders and Traumatic Stress
First responders and military personnel have a much greater exposure to traumatic and emotionally provocative events in their work than the average person. Automatic reactions such as anxiety, tension, confusion, overwhelm, insomnia, irritability, isolation, and burnout are common responses to occupational stressors and trauma. Intense emotions like rage, guilt, and grief are also common reactions that can trigger anxiety, depression, and traumatic stress among military and helping professionals.
Despite more recent institutional efforts to acknowledge the previous emotional burden, first responder and military cultures have historically treated occupational stress and related emotions as something to ignore, control, or bury in order to keep moving and providing help for others. Unaddressed, however, these emotional difficulties can gradually deplete our autonomy, coping efforts, emotional and physical health, relationship quality, and occupational functioning. Burnout, hopelessness, PTSD, isolation, and suicide are some of the more extreme outcomes from the unaddressed emotional toll of these professions. The previous difficulties can be compounded for individuals who also have a history of unaddressed developmental trauma.
Dr. Elliott specializes in helping members of various professions (e.g., Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, Calgary Police Services, Calgary 911, Calgary Fire Department, EMS, Canadian Border Services Agency personnel) work directly with these automatic responses and their unique emotional systems in order to restore their emotional health, autonomy, and functioning in life and the workplace.
Treatment Resistant Depression
Psychotherapy approaches are generally quite effective for most people presenting with psychological difficulties, such as anxiety and depression. Nonetheless, there are still lots of individuals who have partial or no treatment response to psychotherapy or medications. There are also people who benefit during treatment, but relapse after treatment concludes. Treatment Resistant Depression involves clinically depressed individuals who do not respond well to available first-line treatments, such as one or more antidepressant trials and/or a trial of psychotherapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) found in many treatment settings. Many of these individuals often have complex and chronic health issues, anxiety difficulties, negative coping strategies, and related disability.
Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) is brief experiential therapy model with a good evidence base for various mental health problems, including Treatment Resistant Depression. The approach involves helping clients recognize and build tolerance for addressing emotional factors in the onset and persistence of their depression. A standard course of ISTDP for Treatment Resistant Depression is a minimum of 20 sessions, including a two-hour initial trial session. Feedback informed therapy progress and outcome monitoring is used to maximize effectiveness over the course of treatment. Dr. Elliott is one of a small number of clinicians practicing ISTDP in western Canada.