First Responders’ Transition from Work to Home

Much has been said about hypervigilance and how it affects first responders both physically and emotionally. What many don’t fully appreciate is how this threat-based perspective also impacts the spouses and families of first responders.

The key points of transition for those in public safety happen at the start and end of each shift. In most cases, the transition from off duty to on duty is hidden from family members because it happens away from home. The second switch — coming down from the hypervigilance-induced high at work — is a different story altogether. Couples and families need to be aware of and acknowledge this critical inflection point in order to prevent family and relationship problems and help prolong a career in public safety.

In a new video on the transition from work to home, Dr. Rachelle Zemlok and Dr. Kevin Gilmartin discuss the phenomenon and how to approach it in a thoughtful, understanding manner.

Video: The Transition Home – With Dr. Kevin Gilmartin

One of the hardest things for first responder couples to navigate is that transition home after shift. So, if you and your family struggle to navigate this time, you’re not alone.

If your agency subscribes to Lexipol’s Cordico wellness solution, you can get even more in-depth content from Dr. Zemlok, Dr. Gilmartin and others, including an entire module in your Cordico app on Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement.

Rachelle Zemlok, PsyD

Rachelle Zemlok, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist in California, specializing in work with first responder families. She serves as the strategic wellness director at Lexipol, supporting the content and strategy related to first responder mental health and wellness, with a special focus on supporting spouses and family members through the Cordico Wellness App. Prior to joining Lexipol, Zemlok founded First Responder Family Psychology, which provides culturally competent therapy to first responders and their family members. She is the author of “The Firefighter Family Academy: A Guide to Educate & Prepare Spouses for the Career Ahead.”

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