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April 11, 2023

Bridging the Gap: How a Police Officer & Social Worker Revolutionize Therapist Training Amid Rising Threats

Learn how to protect yourself as a therapist or social worker from being assaulted on the job with the impressive solutions provided by Therapist Safety Solutions.

Dr. Tia White and Sergeant Jake Styer have joined forces to form Therapist Safety Solutions, and you may be wondering what that is. That is a company that is designed to keep therapists or other social workers or those dealing with mental health issues safe on the street, in their offices, and possibly even in their workplace environments.

Jake has a strong training background. A lot of self-defense techniques and law enforcement experience. And because Dr. White has a lot of experience in social work, they've come together to form this company that provides amazing solutions to those who need to improve their safety.

First responders play a critical role in keeping our communities safe. However, the stress and trauma of the job can take a toll on their mental health. Peer support and mental health professionals play a critical role in supporting first responders and addressing the stigma and shame associated with seeking help.

If you're interested in peer support training, contact Jerry Lund at 435-476-6382 with The Complete First Responder Trainings or visit www.completefirstrespondertrainings.com. Let's work together to support our first responders and ensure they have the resources they need to maintain their mental health and well-being.


[00:00:00] Jerry: Hi everyone, and welcome to this week's episode event During the Badge podcast. I'm host Jerry Dund, and I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode, so please hit that subscribe button. And while your phone's out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes or Apple Podcast. It says, Hey, this podcast has a great message and we should send it out to more people.

[00:00:20] Jerry: So please take that 30 seconds to a minute to do that review and just maybe by doing that, it'll push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message. Everyone. I'm super excited to announce that I've teamed up with an incredible person, and that person is Dr. Tia White. She is a public safety, wellness and empowerment specialist.

[00:00:40] Jerry: Together, we have combined our knowledge and expertise to create a. Five day training course. Now, that training course, you can attend different days of that training course, whichever ones fit you, but day one would be peer support and how to structure that and get your team up and running, and maybe some of the legalities about that.

[00:00:59] Jerry: Days two, three and four are going to be about advanced wellness and sleep and finances and family dynamics and diet and nutrition and retirement and mindfulness and meditation, and how to be that complete first. But we did not want to leave out the significant other in your life, and that is gonna be on day five.

[00:01:21] Jerry: Feel free to bring that significant other with you. And we are going to do a training that's gonna empower the both of you to have a better relationship, a successful relationship, and one that is going to stand the test of time as a first responder for additional information. Go to the Instagram page called Complete First Responder for more details.

[00:01:48] Jerry: My very special guests today are Dr. Tia White and Sergeant Jake Steyer. They have come together to form a company called Therapist Safety Solutions, and you might ask, what is that? That is a company that is designed to keep therapists safe in their environments or other social workers or those who are dealing with mental health issues out on the street or in their offices and maybe even in their workplace environments.

[00:02:19] Jerry: Jake has a great background in training. A lot of self-defense tactics and a lot of experience in law enforcement. And Dr. White has a lot of experience in social work, so they've combined together to create this company that is offering amazing solutions to those who need to up level, their safety.

[00:02:40] Jerry: Now let's jump right into this episode with him. 

[00:02:43] Jake: I'm Sergeant Jake Styer. Um, I'm a a currently, uh, serving police officer at a agency here in Utah. Um, I've, I've got, uh, about 20 years in the industry, public safety industry, um, in roles ranging from, um, basic patrol operations, 9 1 1 dispatching, um, private security.

[00:03:10] Jake: Uh, I've served on, uh, special operations teams in within law enforcement, and I have some specialties in executive protection kind of bodyguard work as well as the, the SWAT world is kinda my background. 

[00:03:27] Tia: He's a badass. That's really what saying only when I have to, um, I'm, I'm Dr. Tia White and I'm a social worker, so I've been social work role for like 22 years.

[00:03:41] Tia: Uh, in all the fields probably, um, mcot, which in Utah is a mobile crisis outreach team where you're working with the community members. Um, in the emergency room I did D C F S or a child welfare program, right in foster families and, uh, juvenile justice system. I've worked with geriatric patients. I've, I've worked with the spectrum.

[00:04:02] Tia: And, uh, and right now I, I do this with Jake and, uh, I train first responders and, and teach them in, in mental health and wellness in our complete first responder classes. And, uh, that's my specialty. And then I, I work as, I also do therapy sometimes and, and specialize in specific trauma work for our first responders.

[00:04:27] Tia: So that's what, that's what. 

[00:04:29] Jerry: That's awesome. So what is t s s, I mean, we know about you guys, but help the world understand what T s s is and why it's important. 

[00:04:41] Tia: So, yeah. You want me to start or you wanna go? Uh, you start. Okay. This is good. So, tss, um, Started actually for me years ago, uh, this conceptualization of, of it, because of what I was experiencing in the field as a social worker, I was put in really dangerous situations and with no training.

[00:05:01] Tia: You know, I, I had to work with dangerous individuals and unpredictable individuals, unstable individuals. And even though I, I felt like I was pretty good at what I did, I didn't have any education about how to really protect. And, and there's been a lot of times over the years that I've been attacked by clients and I'm not the only one that has.

[00:05:21] Tia: And so, um, I actually started in Utah. We just started these crisis outreach teams in the community. Just a maybe five years ago or so. Hmm, maybe not even that long. And, um, I talked to the bosses at that time and said, Hey, let's stay some training. And, um, they just, social workers know, social work, you know, they don't know that kind of stuff.

[00:05:43] Tia: And so it didn't really go. And, um, and I just over the years have just asked around a couple of the, you know, officers I know and, Hey, can you help with this? And they'd be like, yeah, that's a great idea. And then it wouldn't go anywhere. So when I, I met Jake, I started working with Jake. He, he took it and ran and it was fantastic.

[00:06:02] Tia: Uh, The way that he thinks. And, and with his specialties, he's able to translate what therapists do and, and make us smarter, make us better, make us so that we aren't going down the dark alley with no flashlight. 

[00:06:18] Jerry: So just to, just to understand, so you have your, Training, but you don't have any basically training that's going to protect you from an individual.

[00:06:29] Jerry: So any like hand to hand combat type training. So you just are out in the field. Are you out in the field on your own? At times sometimes. 

[00:06:38] Tia: Sometimes. I mean, they try to tell you to pair up, but there's not always somebody there, so sometimes you're by yourself or it's divide and conquer. So you might be with somebody we call a.

[00:06:48] Tia: Um, and, and they might be working with the family while you're working with the person that's in, in crisis, you know, or struggling and so, yeah, no, we're, we're, as therapists in therapy school, and even right now, I teach and I'm teaching my grad students and we teach 'em to use their words. We teach 'em to use their, their strengths and their therapy models.

[00:07:07] Tia: You know, we don't teach 'em to, we teach 'em to diffuse really good at diffusing, right. We don't know signs, we see signs different. And this is stuff that, that Jake has helped me see. Like we, we are looking at a person and what their mental health situation is not, not that they could be activated into a dangerous behavior.

[00:07:28] Tia: So yeah, we don't, we, we go in with our brain and, and our words and hope for the best. So 

[00:07:34] Jerry: words always can't save. 

[00:07:38] Tia: I try 

[00:07:39] Jake: Sometimes it's, it's not enough. No. Yeah,

[00:07:41] Tia: it's not enough. I mean, here's the thing. I not a lot of therapists work with, or crisis workers or social workers work with psychotic individuals.

[00:07:50] Tia: Um, but you, I'm one of those that have had the pleasure. I actually really enjoyed that population of people and, and, um, But it's a special language, right? So you have to learn how to work with halluc hallucinations and delusions and, and, and when you've got schizophrenia on meth, that's, that's another special, you know, way to look at things.

[00:08:12] Tia: But yeah, we, you have to know all these little nuances all the time about just mental health. And so the safety piece just isn't there. 

[00:08:21] Jerry: And Jake, you've worked with lots of people and from different walks of life in your career. 

[00:08:28] Jake: So the, the beauty of this kind of merger, this combination of a social worker and a police officer, is we have very similar experiences mm-hmm.

[00:08:38] Jake: Through different contextual lenses that we kind of put together. And we see the, we see the differences, but we see a lot of similarities and we're able, by working together, we're able to bridge those, those gaps to create. An a, an awareness program, but also a series of coursework, uh, classes that people can go through to, uh, enhance their personal safety and the way they think about things.

[00:09:08] Jake: So one of the major, um, challenges of this is we, we have therapists who delivers super high quality of care, right? A hundred percent invested in what they do. They want to help their clients, and they don't want to think of their clients as bad guys, right? Mm-hmm. 

[00:09:28] Tia: But we can't because the thing that we think that we can't be in a space to help them with their mental health, 

[00:09:34] Jake: right?

[00:09:35] Jake: So what we are doing is creating a, a system that allows people to still develop that high quality care and deal with behavior instead of. Contextualizing someone the way maybe, um, first a first responder might think of someone like, oh, they're, they're, where's the bad guy at? Right? Yeah. Um, so that's what we're, that's what we're trying to do here.

[00:10:01] Jake: And 

[00:10:01] Jerry: Jake, why, why does this interest you? So, 

[00:10:06] Jake: um, I have been, uh, helped, uh, over the years, uh, with my own mental health, uh, from social workers therapist. Uh, throughout the course of my career, you know, as first responders, we see a lot of things we get exposed to a lot of just ugly, ugly, uh, the ugly reality of life sometimes.

[00:10:27] Jake: And, um, 

[00:10:28] Tia: well, not to mention your own personal lives. Yeah, right. The things that first responders do have personal lives. We have 

[00:10:35] Jerry: breaking 

[00:10:36] Jake: news. I'm a family, we're human beings. Um, and. When, uh, Dr. White approached me about, um, what she envisioned, it just clicked. It made sense to me because, uh, as a police officer, you know, we're constantly assessing every environment we walk into, right?

[00:10:58] Jake: So when you walk into the therapy setting, you're look, you're checking the window, you're checking the doors. Where's the couch? Where do I sit? Where do I want to be? Where's the best place for me? It's like when we walk into our restaurant, you know? Yeah. It's such a common thing. Um, but when she approached me about making things safer for therapists, it just made sense.

[00:11:20] Jake: It made so much sense. Um, I'm a combatives instructor at my agency, and so when she approached me, uh, about it, we started talking and, um, the ideas just naturally started flowing. I mean, it, it's. The way that we look at things and the approach that we take is a cultural competency exchange approach. Can 

[00:11:45] Tia: I just touch on Yeah, please.

[00:11:46] Tia: Because this was, this was really cool and very unexpected. Yeah, it was really cool. So, um, when I, when I talked to Jake first, I was like, look, it's the same conversation I've had with probably a dozen other officers over the years. Like, how can you help? But they're like, yeah, I'll show you some stuff, right?

[00:12:01] Tia: And that was the extent of the conversation. And, but, but Jake and I started discussing it and he's asking these. Kind of like his investigator hat was on, right? And he's asking all these really like deep dive questions and I'm like, I don't know. I hadn't thought about that. And he's like, well, you need to think of it this way.

[00:12:16] Tia: And I said, but I can't think of it that way because that's not how therapists do their job. Right. And we quickly, I mean within probably a couple hours of this like deep dive conversation, realized that this wasn't gonna work unless we started teaching each other the. So we, we did, so Jake's been well and we have been like, I'm mine, like less than number one still.

[00:12:40] Tia: I mean, I'm like in kindergarten for cultural competency, but it's been crazy because we're seeing the similarities Yeah. In, in our cultures. But I mean, Jake mentioned earlier the context is a little different, right? Right. He's pointed out stuff that therapists do that I didn't even realize, like. The kinds of modalities that I use require a lot of focus and direct, uh, connection to my client, psychological connection with my client.

[00:13:07] Tia: And, and, and Jake says, you intentionally hyperfocus, you intentionally create tunnel vision, which is in cop world dangerous. Yeah, yeah. Right. So I did not ever even realize that until he said, You know that we actually create a, a place where for e emotional connection in mental health and healing, that's exactly where we need to be with that person.

[00:13:31] Tia: But for safety and awareness, that's not wise. So, right. But this culture exchange and understanding how therapists work, why we do what we do, what our education is, our men mentality. Right. Yeah. Has, has been, Really educational for me even, and I'm, I'm a therapist, you know, I, I was, I didn't even realize some 

[00:13:54] Jake: of that.

[00:13:54] Jake: And for me, I've been able to, to sit in on like modality trainings mm-hmm. And, and meet with other therapists and, and the, the mental health, uh, professionals I've met with have been amazing. Uh, and given me this incredible insight. They've opened their doors to me. Mm-hmm. And that's not, uh, that doesn't go unnoticed on my part.

[00:14:18] Jake: Like they're taking a risk, letting a cop in and like letting me pick their brains, asking them all kinds of questions. How do you think about things when this happens? What goes through your mind when that happens? Mm-hmm. It's so useful. It's so helpful. Because if we didn't, if we hadn't been doing that exchange, this just would not work.

[00:14:39] Tia: No. I mean, all the other people I approached about this, that was good that they turned it down because this is not where it would've gone. And we, we run our first like pilot class and it went really well. And I think it's because of the hours of work that we put into understanding the culture. I mean, even words that mean different things.

[00:14:57] Tia: I mean, to me the word connection. Connection, that's our big one. The word connection to social worker is about that emotional, you know, energy exchange really. Right. It's about how, how I'm, I'm understanding them and how they're relating to me and you know, that kind of work. Right. But through the work that Jake has been putting me through this cultural competency, right, is connection in police world is like, how do we get 'em to jail?

[00:15:26] Jake: That physical attachment, right? Mm-hmm. Yeah. Um, so one of the things that, that we've been doing that's part of this cultural competency exchanges, um, I convinced Tia to start training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Which 

[00:15:41] Tia: has been awesome. A lesson 11. It's been really, 

[00:15:45] Jake: really good. Um, and we've, oh man, we have found some striking, um, just ideas have come out of that.

[00:15:52] Jake: Yeah. And, um, epiphanies. 

[00:15:54] Tia: Yeah. Um, a hundred percent. I even because of the gym that we're at or the, uh, academy Yeah. Kids, that's what they call it. Oh, police academy. Academy kids. The cadets. Thank you. Dad's. Come in and it's crazy. I had this moment. Uh, it was really impactful actually, because I got to see these baby cops, right?

[00:16:15] Tia: And, and, and, and in, in my specialty, I'm usually dealing with the cops that have been around a long time, you know, 20 years, 30 years. I mean, I, I'll train the younger ones in a big group setting, but the ones that I'm working with one-on-one are usually been around for a long time. You know, really should be thinking about retiring.

[00:16:32] Tia: Most of you know, it was, it was really interesting to be in this setting with the cadets and hearing how their brains are being taught. And I had this realization that they are literally being taught to go against their survival instincts. And I, and I would never have ever, ever come to that conclusion had I not been in that jujitsu class getting pum.

[00:16:59] Tia: And you know, it's actually really fun, but you know, it's great. Yeah. So to have that interaction and understanding and there'll be times I'll go, Jake, help me understand this and how, how can this work this way? I don't understand this word because they keep using this word. I don't remember one of 'em.

[00:17:16] Tia: Connection was probably one of 'em. And well, when, and yeah, he has explained it 

[00:17:20] Jerry: to me. So when you say that they're going against their survival instincts, what do you mean by that? 

[00:17:25] Tia: So we are. Uh, our natural instincts as human is to survive. We wanna keep our bodies alive. We want to keep our brain alive, to run our bodies, right?

[00:17:37] Tia: Like, pretty much, I mean, you could boil it down. I'm sure there's people out there that will disagree with me, but that's okay. We can talk is that most of our behaviors, our defense mechanism, mechanisms, right? Our, our actions, uh, anything like that really toils down to bottom line is surviving. If we feel threaten.

[00:17:54] Tia: Right. We do certain things. We fight, flight, freeze. Um, you know, just to simplify it, right? So first responders are taught to go against that. If there is a loud bang, what does everybody else do? Runs the opposite way. And what do the first responders do? They go straight to it. And that's why the community depends on them.

[00:18:17] Tia: There's an emergency. There's something scary. There's something dangerous, right? I mean, Right. There's a fire. The rest of us are trying to get the away from it. Trying not to swear, trying to, we're trying to get away from it to, to not burn. Right. And how many firefighters have lost their lives? Sac literally sacrificing their lives and their families.

[00:18:42] Tia: To save other people. You guys are taught skills that help you fight those survival instincts and then you're, then you're taught skills on top of that to try to survive. Fighting your survival instincts. I, it's 

[00:18:57] Jake: given a new set of survival 

[00:18:59] Tia: scales. Yeah. Oh yeah. That's a fair way to say it. Thank you.

[00:19:01] Tia: That's, yeah. So, so I, I got to see it with my own eyes. Those cadets started getting that training and it's, you know, some might say, oh, it's brainwashing. It's not brainwashing, it is conditioning their brain to react different, to go against its natural instinct to run. Right? Yeah. And it's really powerful to understand.

[00:19:24] Jerry: I mean, haven't we all been conditioned in some way? 

[00:19:27] Tia: Yeah. Yeah. We have, you know, like social workers and therapists, right? We're conditioned to use our words, 

[00:19:33] Jerry: right? And not words cannot always. Save you, right? I mean, words are great and very powerful and often no matter who you are or what line of work you're in, like you can use the right words and you can deescalate a situation.

[00:19:47] Jerry: Um, but there are some situations, no matter what you say, the situation is going to escalate, especially with somebody in a mental health crisis, right? 

[00:19:57] Tia: Yeah, absolutely. 

[00:19:58] Jake: And so sometimes, You know, in deescalation is a real buzzword right now. In fact, uh, many, in many, you know, police officer, uh, you know, uh, standards and training communities, deescalation is required training now across the country.

[00:20:18] Jake: But, uh, I think there is kind of a, a misunderstanding of what this deescalation really means because there's different types of deescalation. Um, you know, there's, there's that verbal deescalation, which I think mo many people think is the end all be all for deescalation, right? But if there's somebody, uh, if somebody is being actively violent, you know, and hurting somebody, um, you know, with a weapon, say there's somebody shooting people, um, you know, how do you deescalate?

[00:20:50] Jake: You know, typically the most appropriate response is, is rounds on target. That's how you deescalate. You end that situation to save lives. Right? Right. So there is a spectrum of appropriate, reasonable, necessary uses of force. And sometimes that's just our presence. Sometimes that is our words. Sometimes that's something else.

[00:21:10] Jake: Right? And so, um, part of what we're doing is, is bringing that culture into, You know, a therapist mindset, so they know, uh, one, the awareness component. How do we recognize, uh, pre-incident indicators like what, uh, what a client might be experiencing as they get activated? Um, and how, if I have a good timing, maybe I can use some words to intercept that behavior for it happens.

[00:21:41] Jake: But if it doesn't, if it doesn't work, what do I do to protect myself? How do I do that? Like Dr. White was. They don't get training on what to do, and so we want to provide that training for them. Yeah. 

[00:21:54] Tia: One, one big. Sorry, go ahead, Trey. Oh, 

[00:21:57] Jerry: I have, uh, my question is like, for those listening, like what does that mean to be activated?

[00:22:03] Jerry: Maybe people don't really understand what, and being activated is. 

[00:22:09] Tia: So, I mean, traditionally, you know, we understand activated or triggered, that's the big pop word, right? So triggered, right. Is that you're, you're, you start feeling it in your body. This is like a joke that we have, but it's so real. You, yeah.

[00:22:24] Tia: You start understanding it. In your body, right? Because part of fight, flight and freeze is, think about it, if I've gotta run from the threat, the dinosaur right, or whatever, my body's gotta go, right? I've gotta take off. So it's very natural that our body starts feeling things. So when we become triggered, maybe we start having heart palpitations, maybe we start feeling threatened.

[00:22:45] Tia: And so then we do certain behaviors that indicate that I'm gonna. Right. Um, made falling up fists, right? Um, that's a big one, right? There's posturing and anybody that's ever been around, people that get angry know what posturing looks like, you know? Um, and therapists though, it's, there's these realizations that sometimes that threat state or that triggered state is like hiding, right?

[00:23:09] Tia: So putting a hoodie over their head or, um, you know, just things like that. So there's all these little nuances, but as, as therapist, We see somebody activated or getting triggered or elevating and we want to understand where their head is and see if we can get 'em to calm down. Right? We wanna get 'em out of that fight and flight brain and, and get 'em to start processing what is happening.

[00:23:35] Tia: And so we don't always recognize the signs. That could be a very dangerous situation. Um, and there's plenty, uh, we did a little survey Yeah. Um, of a small sample of social work student. They're about to graduate, and, uh, there was 11% of them that were already scared of their clients. Several of them had already had experiences that were very dangerous, and they're, they're barely, they're not even graduated yet.

[00:24:04] Tia: You know, we don't realize because we're not paying attention, like therapist, social worker, we're not paying attention because we see it difference. Yeah. So that activation, that knowing it in your body, that's a what is my body telling me that is happening with this person right now? Right. Being aware of those.

[00:24:21] Tia: So even if I start thinking about some of the individuals I've met in the community automatically because of my exposure to them, maybe I was attacked by them. Like my heart starts. So I know it in my body that something is happening, right? So then am I gonna respond to that, right? Yeah, 

[00:24:39] Jerry: that's perfect.

[00:24:41] Jerry: So 11%, that actually seems a little low to me, honestly. In today's world with what we see on TV or social media and things like that, portraying what's going on in the world. I mean, I've, you, it's very unpredictable, right? And going into a field where you're going to be in a room one-on-one with a person that you probably don't know very well and maybe have just a, you know, a little history about what's going on.

[00:25:12] Jerry: I would see that could be frighten. 

[00:25:14] Jake: So that's 11% of a student population that's about to enter a field where over 70% mm-hmm. Have already been attacked and are attacked regularly. So that is a, 

[00:25:27] Tia: that was a government study that they, they did in workplace violence and social workers were on the top, the top list for workplace violence.

[00:25:35] Tia: And 

[00:25:36] Jake: Jerry, you bring up a really good point, like when we, as first responders, uh, police officers, we talk about this idea of. Of going into an environment that way. That's not an ideal situation for us. You know, we're we're going into a one-on-one environment with a completely unknown entity, but that's a situation where therapists are inviting that.

[00:25:59] Jake: That's what they intentionally go into. They have to, to do the work that they do. Yeah. 

[00:26:04] Tia: Fun story about that. When Jake realized, he's like, you know that everything first responders do is to keep the danger way, right? You're inviting it all into you, like it was a little bit of a look of horror on his face, but we're working, 

[00:26:23] Jake: talking, but also, I mean, kind of awe-inspiring, right?

[00:26:26] Jake: Because you, I mean, the amount of. Of, um, bravery required to do that, especially once you realize what you're doing. Um, the fact that we have people that are willing to meet people who are struggling with a, a myriad of, of issues and problems, we can't function as a society without our therapists, our social workers, you know, our mental health professionals bec, we all need that help.

[00:26:55] Jake: And so the, the fact that they would go into that situation, willing to do that for a complete stranger, uh, it sounds a little familiar, right? For responders, right? And, and so I think latching onto that and, and helping, uh, each other, seeing that that, uh, similarity has been really meaningful and incredibly rewarding in ways that I never thought.

[00:27:22] Jake: This has just been kind of a, a, a labor of love for both of us in, in a lot of ways. And we're already starting to see kind of the fruits of that, uh, manifest. Uh, our first class was just fantastic. We had some great students who brought really good background and experience. Uh, we had, uh, awesome. Uh, uh, an awesome cadre of, of role players that we use.

[00:27:47] Jake: Mm-hmm. For scenario training, that's one of the things that we bring in from the, the first responder side of the house, bringing in this, this idea of scenario training with qualified professionals who can act as role players who have been in those situations and can simulate that environment. They're, they're pretty dang 

[00:28:05] Tia: good.

[00:28:06] Tia: Yeah. Very convincing. Amazing. Yeah, there's been my point. I was like, it's like, er, er.

[00:28:14] Jerry: I mean, there has been a big movement the last couple years to resolve a lot of issues within the community, um, by sending out social workers. Right? Just put 'em in a car, send 'em out to these mental health crisises and no, not armed, not clearly not trained. Right, not trained in any kind of hand, hand combat, at least.

[00:28:38] Jerry: Right. Okay. Are we not setting. Them up for failure and for them to be assaulted. And I, I've been assaulted, possibly 

[00:28:49] Tia: killed. Yeah. And we, if you do a deep dive on YouTube, there are videos of therapists being attacked. And, and here's the thing is, one of my good friends, her therapist was attacked outside of her office to the point of being in the I C U for three days.

[00:29:05] Tia: It almost killed her. Uh, I mean, it's a very real thing. And, and for whatever reason, I don't understand it. I'm, I haven't made sense of it yet, but therapists don't talk about it. We don't talk about, you know, when I got assaulted, uh, one of my last assaults, you know, by a psychotic client, there wasn't really any discussion.

[00:29:23] Tia: I did my report, did my thing, I calmed myself down, and I went back to work and took care of what needed to be taken care of, you know, and there was no, I mean, maybe talked about it in a staff meeting for a second. Like, where were you? Why did you take so long to call the cops? You know, like, I mean, that was kind of it.

[00:29:39] Tia: That was, that was it. Yeah. So we don't, and, and I mean, you guys have, um, at least in Utah, they passed a law last year I think, or maybe it was two years ago, to have behavioral health technicians on the, on the ambulance. Right. So that, and they. I was on that committee for about a minute, um, to get over there.

[00:29:57] Tia: Want them to be social workers and no medic at the same time. Yeah. So it is, it's, this is this huge thing and what I think what we failed to see is the value of working together. Yeah. Um, my best interactions in the community or when my, um, friends, they were my friends, the officers came and were supporting me so that I could do my job to work with the client.

[00:30:23] Tia: Um, And then having the fire medic staged so that we could get 'em to where they needed to go after the fact. Right. But that happens multiple times and they're very memorable to me because I have no other way to explain it other than like this dance. And it was fantastic because, and I'm not a dancer, I should just be very clear about that.

[00:30:42] Tia: But, but so what we were talking about earlier, this hyper focus, I was able to go into this. Unpleasant situation. And this last one that I was thinking of, and I could literally zone in on the person that I needed. And there is so much chaos happening around, I know it. It didn't matter to me. I was here because I could be here because I had three cops behind me, literally moving with me if I moved this way to work with the person they moved with.

[00:31:10] Tia: If I went down on my knees, they stood right up against me and it was, it was amazing. It's very, it's very touching to me because I could do my job to help that person because they were there and I knew that if anything happened that I would be taken care of. And there were several of those incidents, several of us, and we have to work together.

[00:31:29] Tia: We, you guys, as first responders, has these skills and these amazing, you spend so much of your time framing. On these skills, you know, and we are just not, but, but equally so I, I work really hard on my skills to work with individuals Right. And try to get them to where we need to be. If, if it's learning meth, schizophrenic, I can do that.

[00:31:49] Tia: You know, that's fluent schizophrenic, right? Yeah. So we work together. It's a, it's 

[00:31:57] Jake: a, it's a great, well see, and, and by doing that, that makes our job as police officers so much easier. We don't want to have to use force on anybody if we can help it. If we can resolve a situation without using force, that's ideal.

[00:32:14] Jake: And we're only gonna see more integration of social workers into this field of dealing with mental health consumers and, and people who are struggling with issues that way it makes perfect sense for us to work together so that we can kind of combine our talents, our skills to resolve those situations.

[00:32:34] Jake: In a peaceful way. It benefits the public, it benefits us, it benefits our social workers. Everybody wins. Everybody wins that way. Yeah. Well, 

[00:32:43] Tia: and we, and without that cultural competency piece though. Yeah, because even when I was on scene with the, you know, the first responders regularly, we still didn't have a real understanding of what our roles were.

[00:32:54] Tia: And so sometimes there was, you know, a little bit of power play and that's okay. Like, It's all right. We had good relationships, so it worked out, but we didn't really understand what each other was doing or trying to do, and unless I've worked with them before. Right. And and so that cultural competency bridges the gap.

[00:33:11] Tia: Yeah. It bridges the gap really. It's understanding how we're thinking, why we're thinking that, why I'm doing that. Right. We do this in debriefs, in in psychological debriefs or, uh, cism or, you know, protocol, 'em different things, right. But after a critical incident, We'd break down what everybody was thinking, where was everybody at?

[00:33:30] Tia: What were they feeling about it? And the cops that were there didn't understand why the firefighters did what they did until that conversation. It's the same idea. So let's do it this way too, to help both of us. Like Jake said, it's a win-win. 

[00:33:44] Jerry: So Dr. White, um, I know people are listening to this and are going to be thinking, well, I'm a therapist and if I start taking on these modalities of self-defense, that's gonna inhibit me from being a good therapist.

[00:33:59] Jerry: What do you have to say to that? 

[00:34:02] Tia: Yeah, it's a, it's a real, real question. We've gotten that, yeah. From lots of therapists. Even my good friend therapists are like, literally the text message I got was, I've never been concerned for my safety. It's never been a conversation and I have no reason to believe that I need this kind of training.

[00:34:18] Tia: That was literally the conversation. Um, great individual, very good therapist. Uh, and, and to that, my response is, does it hurt to build a little bit more skillset because you don't know what you don't? These, you know, I have a different kind of exposure working with, you know, dangerous individuals in the community.

[00:34:37] Tia: You know, criminal behaviors, right? Different things like that. I have a different perspective, but I also know what it's like to sit in an office. Well, guess what? You don't know your clients most of the time when they come in. You don't know 'em at all. You don't even know what they look like most of the time, you know, for brand new clients.

[00:34:53] Tia: So, does it hurt to educate yourself to have a little more awareness? It doesn't hurt that, you know? And I mean, our, our first class, they were even surprised. They were like, wow, I didn't even realize Yeah. That I needed to have this information. And the, the trick though, the real concern is am I, is it gonna change how I treat my clients?

[00:35:12] Tia: Right? Yeah. 

[00:35:14] Jake: That was, I open my watch because it doesn't, mm-hmm. It didn't. And watching the light bulbs go off in our students heads, you could see it. Mm-hmm. You could see their brains firing on, oh. Okay. Yeah. I, I should pay attention to the doors, you know, as I'm walking, I should look up at the stairs as I prepare to go around them.

[00:35:37] Jake: Just basic, kind of situational awareness components. It, it doesn't, it, it only makes you a better therapist mm-hmm. If anything, because, uh, like Dr. White was saying, you're adding to your skillset, which is a huge component in the mental health, uh, professional culture. They're always constantly trying to improve.

[00:35:58] Jake: It's constantly trying to add to their skillset the same way first responders are. It's so similar. So by framing it as we're, we're trying to build onto what you already have to make you better. Mm-hmm. It works. It just works. Yeah. 

[00:36:12] Tia: We're enhancing, we're strengthening. Yeah. Right. I'll. 

[00:36:15] Jerry: Yeah. I mean, nobody wants to be in a situation where they're at attacked, right?

[00:36:21] Jerry: No one wants to be in that situation, but how? How much better would you feel if that situation did arise and you were able to protect yourself or even just maybe recognizing some additional signs before it even happened? I mean, one, one thing not being attacked is, would be life changing. Right? That being attacked.

[00:36:44] Jerry: Being attacked by somebody. Doesn't that leave, doesn't that leave some scars? What do you wanna call it? Some, whatever you wanna call it. It leaves some memories. 

[00:36:55] Tia: Mm-hmm. It does leave memories, that's for sure. You know? Yeah. And, but one other thing that we learned with our first class and those great therapists that were participated was, uh, a level of.

[00:37:07] Tia: So you might be aware. So for therapists that work in groups or rehab centers or uh, intensive, uh, type treatment settings, they see the clients for six hours at a time, sometimes Right. Or all day long. And they'll be in groups, after groups, after groups. And so it's not just one individual dynamic that they have to be concerned about and be aware of.

[00:37:25] Tia: It's, it's, you know, 15 or. Right at once and they realized, oh wow, we really have just gotten complacent. Yeah. Like we're so focused on this that we just didn't even pay attention to the fact that these guys are not looking like they wanna cooperate. So that could create another problem. Right. And, and. To speak to like that, that not changing.

[00:37:48] Tia: If anything, there's a level of confidence that was there. It's a competency, confidence. I dunno what, it's, it's good. But we had that, Jake was running me through some scenarios. We were talking about what could be in like a couple's session and most people, okay, rightfully so. Most people are on their best behavior in therapy, but you're also coming to therapy to work through your stuff, right?

[00:38:09] Tia: So if you're in a couple session and things get heated, um, there could be. And if it's a domestic violence situation, there could be a threat of some kind of aggression, right? And so recognizing certain behaviors, let's separate that. Let's get 'em out. Let's completely avoid it. But then knowing what to do if it does get to that point.

[00:38:31] Tia: And that was my question to Jake. What do I do? So that's great. Now I can avoid it, right? I think I can avoid it, you know? But what if I miss it because I'm thinking about something else and I'm trying to help with their relationship problems, right? I'm missing a behavior that I needed to see. And he says, all you gotta do is this.

[00:38:46] Tia: I was like, what? That's it. So that's simple. And, and just sitting there, having that scenario play out in front of me, I thought I know what to do now. Like, I'm not worried about it. Yeah. Like I just feel like I'm very capable of handling what needed to happen if it does. 

[00:39:02] Jake: I'm a, I'm a big believer in, um, principle-based, um, systems.

[00:39:08] Jake: I'm a, I'm a convert to that idea. Um, you know, in my, in my combatives role, uh, poli in the police world, we use a very principle-based system that is just fantastic. And so the theory behind that also applies to all walks of life and, and everything that we do. We're following sound principles. Then, um, we're able to make better decisions, better choices about what to do given a, a specific, uh, scenario, a specific experience.

[00:39:41] Jake: And so that plays a huge role in what we do. 

[00:39:46] Jerry: So let's kind of wrap this up a little bit into what I'm a therapist or I'm somebody in the community that works. Different populations where I'm in fear of my safety, what could t s s do for me? 

[00:40:03] Jake: So what we can do is have you, um, we can teach you how to be more aware, how to observe and, and understand what's going on around you, the, the operational reality of what you're faced with, right?

[00:40:16] Jake: From a safety standpoint. And then we can integrate some. Abilities, um, increased understanding and awareness into your existing practice. Mm-hmm. And how you work as a therapist. So it doesn't change the, the quality of care. We're not reducing anything. We're only enhancing, so that as you practice, you've got those things that you can think about and you have a new set of skills to use to help you.

[00:40:45] Jake: Should you start to observe those types of behaviors. That would be warning signs. Uh, cause you to be, uh, fear for your safety. 

[00:40:54] Tia: Well, and then before even then, right? Like recognizing office setting, how you set your furniture up. Therapists spend a lot, most of us spend a lot of time like setting up the therapeutic environment, uh, so that it feels right.

[00:41:09] Tia: You know, we have our little oil thing and the lighting is just right. Right? I mean, the rug, you know, the color of the pillows, the pictures, even picture. Yeah. It's, it, it all. Feel good because we wanna create this healing environment. And so recognizing how you even set it up or how your building is placed, right.

[00:41:29] Tia: Just these simple things of how you drive in and what did you notice? Right? Because some of, of, of dangerous situations happen actually outside of the office. Not necessarily insight. What's your, what's 

[00:41:41] Jake: your procedure for getting new clients? Yeah. For signing up new clients, you know? Can you, we can show you how to, I.

[00:41:50] Jake: Procedural things that can enhance your safety before the session even begins, before you even meet 

[00:41:55] Tia: your client. Mm-hmm. Yeah. So it's, it's really enhancing the skills. 

[00:42:00] Jerry: So what it, so from my understanding, your, your classes will teach people how to maybe set up the rooms, how to be more observant to what's going on around them.

[00:42:10] Jerry: Are you gonna teach them any, like some hands-on skills as well? 

[00:42:16] Jake: So, yeah, we have a series of coursework that we're, that we're working with here. So we've set it up very much like a, a college course system. Mm-hmm. Right? Because we're 

[00:42:27] Tia: all familiar with that, aren't we there? Yeah. 

[00:42:29] Jake: That's the world. Right? So we have TSS 100.

[00:42:34] Jake: That's your foundational class, right? Yeah. TSS 200, 300, 400, and so on and so forth. Right. We're each. Class builds on the last one. Mm-hmm. And helps you to develop more skills. Mm-hmm. And some of those courses do involve actual hands-on work. Mm-hmm. Right. But before you can do that, we've gotta build that foundation, that good foundation, so that when we teach those hands-on skills, uh, in scenarios and simulation, you understand the why behind the what it makes.

[00:43:08] Jake: I like that. 

[00:43:09] Tia: The why. The why behind the what. Yeah. That's what 

[00:43:12] Jerry: we're doing. So what other advice would you like to give the, the listeners before we let you go to maybe give them a further understanding of what your goal is to, to help, you know, do for therapists or anybody in the mental health world that's working with people.

[00:43:30] Jerry: I mean, people are getting assaulted all the time in workplaces and.

[00:43:38] Tia: I think my advice, my thought is you can't help them if you can't help yourself. Now, typically, we look at that in the mental health perspective, but there is a huge physical aspect to that, right? And there's a huge awareness aspect to that. So take the time, become aware of your environment, become aware of the situation and your own abilities, and then become empower.

[00:44:05] Tia: Become empowered to learn the skills so that you can do your best work and know that you know how to handle a situation, know that you, that you're competent in protecting yourself and your client. This is, this is always about the client and you always right. How can I protect them and protect myself?

[00:44:25] Tia: Um, we can't be there for them if we don't take care of ourselves. Yeah. 

[00:44:31] Jake: As we become more compet. Right. In our skillset, whatever that is, whatever job you're in as a therapist, you get real confident in your ability to perform your modality, to treat your client, to, to do the work. Right. Um, maybe you're realizing, oh yeah, there's a, there's a component here that I'm missing.

[00:44:51] Jake: There's a gap in my training, in my understanding, and that's the safety and awareness gap. Don't be afraid of that. Mm-hmm. Embrace it. Mm-hmm. Jump into that and start learning. The way you do with everything else you do in psychology and in therapy world and, and all that stuff, build that skillset up.

[00:45:08] Jake: Because as you become more, more competent in that skillset, your confidence will go up. As your confidence goes up and your competency goes up, your ability to be more compassionate to serve your client goes way up. This is not an original idea. This is not my idea. This is an idea taken from, uh, the founder of my combative system that we use on the police side of.

[00:45:32] Jake: But again, it's a principle based idea. And so what one of the things that we've discovered through this cultural competency exchange is that these principles are universal. They apply both to the the mental health professional world and to first responder world. And so if you're on the fence about this, if you're worried about your safety or you're just starting to become aware of it, realize our ultimate goal is to make you a better caregiver.

[00:46:00] Jake: And that's what we wanna do. Yeah, that's 

[00:46:03] Jerry: awesome. Where can people find you and follow you and get more information about what you two 

[00:46:10] Jake: are up to? So we're on Facebook, Instagram, uh, we are starting a podcast. Oh yeah. What's the 

[00:46:17] Jerry: name of that podcast? 

[00:46:19] Jake: We're starting the, the tia, the Therapist Safety Solutions.

[00:46:24] Jake: Podcast, um, where we have discussions about a broad range of topics within this field, right? We, we will be talking about what we've been doing on our cultural competency exchange. We'll be talking about our mission, our vision, our values, those types of things. Um, and then, you know, common misconceptions.

[00:46:45] Jake: Mm-hmm. Just a variety of topics. It's really just us talking about these things, um, so that the community can get to know us better and understand what we're 

[00:46:53] Jerry: all. And these are gonna be short little podcast, 15 minute, 20 minute sessions. And then what, what's your, do you have an email on a website as well and where and they, we gotta get some names of like where we can find you guys?

[00:47:08] Tia: Yeah. So our email is info ad therapist safety solutions.com and Oh no, do yeah. Dot com. Yeah. Dot com. Right. And then, um, our website is the same thing. Therapist safety. So, Right. Do com. Uh, what's the tag for? Just set up the Instagram. Oh, therapist Safety 

[00:47:29] Jake: Solutions. You can find us on Instagram under that name.

[00:47:32] Jake: And then same thing on Facebook. Yeah, we're also on LinkedIn. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, in YouTube we have a YouTube channel Therapist. Safety. 

[00:47:40] Jerry: You guys are everywhere. You guys are every, everywhere. 

[00:47:43] Tia: Ryan trying to get the word out. 

[00:47:46] Jerry: Well, thank you both for being on today. That was, uh, very informational and I know my audience is going to appreciate seeing a therapist and a law enforcement officer teaming up for safety, which is very unique but impactful to the, to the world, so I appreciate that.

[00:48:04] Tia: Thanks, Jerry. Thank you. Thank you.

[00:48:07] Jerry: Thanks again for listening. Don't forget to rate and review the show wherever you access your podcast. If you know someone that would be great on the show, please get a hold of our host, Jerry Dean Lund. Through the Instagram handles at Jerry Fire and Fuel, or at Enduring The Badge Podcast.

[00:48:30] Jerry: Also by visiting the show's website, enduring the badge podcast.com for additional methods of contact and up to date information regarding show. Remember the views and opinions expressed during the show. So we represent films of our host and the current episodes guest.

Jake StyerProfile Photo

Jake Styer


Jake Styer is the program director for Therapist Safety Solutions. He also currently serves as a patrol sergeant for a local police agency in Utah and an adjunct instructor at a local university.

Jake has over 20 years of public safety experience with a diverse range of specialties and expertise.

He is married with three kids. He enjoys spending time with his family, writing music, shooting, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and art.

Dr. Tia White, LCSWProfile Photo

Dr. Tia White, LCSW

Public Safety Mental Health & Wellness Specialist

Tia is a 22-year + social worker and licensed clinician, who has dedicated her career and education to the mental health and wellness of public safety professionals. With a Doctorate and Masters's in Social Work, her education focus has been on the best ways to holistically empower communities, develop programs, initiate, translate and apply research and engage public safety in specialized clinical treatments.