We take this very seriously. If you'd like to be a CFRC/A/S, and work with Law Enforcement Officers and/or First Responders, please be sure you know that you have a serious responsibility that comes with that caregiving role. Get all your questions answered before getting involved with this very vulnerable population.
Question: Is this certification valid where I live?
Answer: Because a certification is not directly attached to licensure, it is valid anywhere. A certification differs from a license in that a license permits you to practice (license to provide clinical services, license to cut hair, license to practice medicine). A certification verifies that you have gained a designated standard of knowledge or skills in something, from a subject matter expert entity, and have proven that acquisition of knowledge or skills through an examination or assessment that measures it. The certification states that you passed that assessment (in our case, a score of at least 90% on the exam). So, this certification can be earned anywhere and shows that you have become trained in the culture of First Responders, in this case, and have passed the examination showing that you actually did learn the training content to a level meeting our standard.
Question: I'm confused about which tier is for me -- CFRC, CFRA or CFRS?
Answer: The program begin with just one tier -- Certified First Responder Counselor, and then grew to three, to meet the needs and requests of others who work regularly with First Responders and wanted to get the training.
If you are a fully and actively licensed therapist, recognized by your governing licensure board as being authorized to provide clinical counseling services, treatment plans, bill insurance, etc.) then you are most likely qualified to enroll in the Certified First Responder Counselor program and certification. We simply do not want to certify anyone as a "counselor" whose governing entity does not recognize them as such.
If you provide counseling in your professional role, but are not a licensed clinician (still under supervision hours toward licensure completion, chaplains, group facilitators in a treatment setting,, etc.) then you would be qualified to enroll in our Certified First Responder Associate training program.
If you do not provide counseling services, but want to better understand First Responders because you interact with them or work with them in any other capacity (volunteer coordinators, treatment staff, family & friends, etc.) then you may take the Certified First Responder Supporter training program.
With any specific questions for your own situation, please email us at [email protected].
Question: Is the CFRC program accredited so that I get CE credits for taking it?
Answer: Academy Hour is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
Clarification and specifics on CE training credit hours:
The Certification Program (CFRC) as a whole is not eligible for CE hours.
Question: Can everything in this training program be done online?
Answer: The training program is video-based, with supplemental activities and exercises also online. There are two off-line activities required: 1) 1 Required book reading; and we require a 4-hour Ride-Along for real-life experience and learning.
Most agencies have opened ride-alongs back up since Covid-19, however if your local agencies are still not allowing them, we can provide a list of alternate assignments.
Question: I am/was a First Responder; I don't have to go on the Ride-Along, right?
Answer: We don't waive the Ride-Along exercise for anyone, even those who have actual first-hand First Responder experience. If you were a Law Enforcement Officer, we would encourage you to do the Ride-Along with another type of Responder, like fire, EMS or sit with a 911 dispatcher. The Ride-Along has several goals, which you'll learn about in the training program. We also strongly encourage participants to do continuous ride-alongs, far beyond this training program, because we believe in them so strongly as an exceptional learning experience.
Question: What training qualifies as CE (continuing education) for the CFRC program?
Answer: Academy Hour will offer training classes each year, which are designed specifically as continuing education for this program. Third-party training providers may, however, submit their training courses for CE approval through Academy Hour, and we will list those on our site as CE options as they become available.
Question: I already work with Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders. Do I need this training program?
Answer: If at least 50% of your client base is the Responder population, and you have worked with them for several years, and you feel like you have sufficient experience working with this group, and you've built a reputation for "getting" them and understanding them, and for helping them, then you probably can keep doing what you're doing. However, more knowledge is always a good thing when we want to get better at something. You may learn something in the program, as well as in the continuing education required each year for renewal. You will also have access, as a CFRC or CFRA to the online community and our Ask-An-Expert feature, as well as our Academy Hour app full of extended resources, and would take annual CE courses for the certification that are specifically related to your work with First Responders. You will also have a recognizable certification and be added to our online directory as well as national databases for First Responder counselor resources.
Question: I've never worked with First Responders or Law Enforcement Officers, but I think it would be good to do so. Can I just start taking them on as clients, or do I have to have this program?
Answer: If you've never worked with First Responders or Law Enforcement Officers, this training program will give you a very good look at what it might be like, and what kinds of situations you may encounter. If you think you want to work with First Responders and Law Enforcement Officers, but have no experience, PLEASE take this training program (or a similar one) prior to attempting to take these unique individuals on as clients. They have a unique culture, and very unique needs, and the goal is to "do no harm." The trauma of a First Responder or LEO can be very difficult to manage, and the stories they tell can be very difficult to hear. Take this program as one way of finding out if this is indeed the right path for you.
Question: Who accredits this course?
Answer: Academy Hour is the entity providing this certification course. A certification (in this case, CFRC or Certified First Responder Counselor, CFRA (Associate) or CFRS (Supporter)) designates you as someone who has taken additional, topic-specific training in a particular area, and has had to pass an exam proving you have gained a level of knowledge through the training program. We require you pass with at least a 90% exam score.
Question: How / why was this program developed?
Answer: The program was developed because the stigma for First Responders and Law Enforcement Officers to seek mental health help is beginning to change, allowing them to reach out for counselors. To respond to that need, we need counselors who are trained and ready to handle what they will bring. Not just any counselor is right for this role, and not just any counselor can handle hearing the experiences that these brave heroes talk about and deal with. We want to provide training and education for those counselors who are willing and able to work with this group, so you're at your best to help them be their best. It's challenging, it's difficult, and counseling these individuals is not something we do "for the money." It's something we do because we care... and it takes a special person, with special training, to do the job well.
The program was developed by a mental health professional and training specialist who also has experience with Law Enforcement and First Responders. Collaborating with officers and responders at all levels and in all areas, as well as consulting with counselors and psychologists who have experience in working in this area, the curriculum was created to educate, as well as to help a counselor self-assess their own readiness for this role. Extensive research, personal interviews, many ride-along's, and a really great extended network of subject matter experts went into making this a training program we feel will prepare the right counselors for helping heroes heal.
If you have more questions, we'd love to answer them. Just email us at: [email protected].