Wounded Warriors Canada Before Operational Stress (BOS) Program
Welcome to Before Operational Stress starts, the BOS program that teaches you how to be the BOS of your mental health! We want to welcome you to the program and to make you aware of what to expect from BOS before the program begins!
Overview of BOS
The BOS program is intended to provide you with information, skills and experience to better manage the effects of operational stress. Following your intake to the program, the group will begin to meet for 2-hour sessions over the course of eight weeks. Each of the eight groups will begin with presentation of information that will help you better understand and manage the effects of operational stress. Following the presentation of this information, each session will then provide opportunity for facilitated group discussion in order to process each member’s experience with the content that has been presented. In this way, each of the eight sessions will provide members with important content regarding management of operational stress, as well as a process to explore the relevance of the material to you in your career and your personal life.
After the initial eight weeks, group members will be provided with 10 months of follow-up, which will occur on a monthly basis. This period of follow-up is considered a key component of the BOS program, as this will provide support to members as they attempt to incorporate the information and experience of the initial eight week sessions into their daily lives. We recognize the challenge BOS participants may face in incorporating these ideas into their personal and professional lives and we want to provide ongoing support as these attempts are made. The follow-up group will also allow BOS participants to maintain cohesion and connection to others in the group, providing meaningful opportunities for social connection as members continue to manage the effects of operational stress.
BOS Membership Criteria
Eligible participants for the BOS program will be individuals who are currently serving in a public service role, and who is exposed to high rates of operational stress as a result of their service position. Commonly these will be individuals who work in the following first response roles: firefighters, police officers, paramedics, corrections officers, soldiers, etc. Individuals are also eligible to attend the BOS program if they have previously served in a public service capacity, so we invite Veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as retired members of other public service organizations to apply. For those individuals still working, we invite application from public service members who are at any juncture of their career. While we anticipate that BOS program participants may have been exposed to this type of program before, that is not a requirement for admission to the program. We expect that some BOS program participants will already be experiencing the effects of operational stress and we are happy to have individuals experiencing these effects attend the program.
If someone is suffering the effects of operational stress in such an extreme way as to interfere with their ability to tolerate being in a group setting, we will suggest referral to individual therapeutic services first before admission to the BOS program. We are happy to welcome participants who may already have a diagnosis of an Operational Stress Injury (OSI), however to ensure safety for each BOS program participant, we want to ensure that each member will be able to emotionally tolerate and engage with the group process that is central to the BOS program. We are happy to consult with any medical practitioners with whom members are already working to determine if referral to the BOS program is indicated.
BOS Program Objectives
The objectives of the BOS program are as follows:
1. To provide participants with opportunities to learn new and different ideas and strategies about how to cope with the effects of operational stress, and to become more resilient to its effects;
2. To give and receive social support in the context of a group-based, therapeutic environment;
3. To have the opportunity to discuss with peers and facilitators personal experiences related to the effects of operational stress and to receive support in doing so;
4. To receive a total of 12-months of group-based intervention to support better identification and management of the effects of operational stress.
BOS Program Expected Outcomes
Based on the processes and procedures that will comprise the BOS program, we anticipate the following outcomes:
1. That BOS program participants will enhance their ability to identify the impacts of operational stress, and the factors that intensify its effects;
2. That BOS program participants will elaborate their repertoire of strategies to cope with the effects of operational stress;
3. That BOS program participants will experience decreased social isolation and greater cohesion with a community of their peers, and in this sense will experience greater normalization of the challenges they face coping with operational stress;
4. That BOS program participants will ultimately report a greater sense of resilience in coping with the effects of operational stress, particularly related to the sense of community that will develop with their BOS group.
5. In the long run, we anticipate that participation in the BOS program will support reduced potential for participants to develop an operational stress injury, as we will also be able to help identify when a greater degree of therapeutic is intervention is required over the year of BOS program delivery.
The standards of practice for psychologists in Alberta consider the personal information you discuss during the BOS program to be confidential. No information will be released to any third party without your prior written authorization to release such information. There are situations where the Registered Psychologists you are working with become legally required to release personal information. Specifically, if you reveal information that indicates a clear and immediate danger of harm to yourself or others, or that a child or a vulnerable adult is in need of protection (a minor is anyone in Alberta under the age of 18), the facilitators will need to contact the appropriate authorities. Registered psychologists are required to release records if mandated by a court order and may report to the police the name, address and medical condition of a client who in the opinion of the psychologist is at risk of harm to self or to someone else. These events are rare; however, the facilitators need to make you aware that these possibilities do exist. Also, while the co-facilitators of the BOS program are ethically and legally bound to maintain participant confidentiality, your fellow group members are not so bound. While we ask that everyone maintain the confidentiality of the group, the facilitators cannot guarantee that group members will adhere to this request.
Risks and Benefits
As with any program of this kind, there are risks and benefits to participating in the BOS program. BOS participants will be asked to engage in group-based learning and discussion, and in so doing they will hear information from other members regarding their experiences with operational stress. Listening to the stories of others could activate unpleasant memories and feelings related to ones own experiences with operational stress. BOS program participants will also be asked to share and discuss personally relevant information in the context of the group-based program, which could result in members feeling vulnerable in the presence of others. As program participants learn about the effects of operational stress, they may also come to have greater understanding of the impact operational stress is having in their lives, which could result in a sense of distress, and potentially a need for further intervention.
The BOS program is also anticipated to allow for several benefits for participants. The information and process of program delivery of BOS is anticipated to support enhanced management of the effects of operational stress. Thus, we anticipate that BOS participants will experience an enhanced sense of competence and resiliency relative to coping with the effects of operational stress, which could result in an improved sense of mental health. The group-based nature of the BOS program is also anticipated to decrease any social isolation experienced by members before the group begins. It is anticipated that members will realize in a greater way that they are not alone, or flawed, in their experience of the negative effects of operational stress. It is also anticipated that members will experience less feelings of shame and a greater sense of community with their peers through the process of participation in the BOS program.
The majority of the fees for individual participation in the BOS program have been paid for by Wounded Warriors Canada. Each participant is required to pay a fee of $175 for the initial 8-week program, which also includes monthly follow-up for 10 months following the initial 8 weeks.
Statement of Informed Consent
I have read and fully understand the information contained in this document. Any and all questions I have regarding the contents of this document have been answered to my satisfaction and I would like to participate in the BOS Program.
I have been given a copy of this form for my own records.