Online Counseling for First Responders

Online Counseling for First Responders

Let’s be real. Zoom sucks. 

I do not like having to see people through a computer screen. It hurts my eyes, it hurts my heart. It doesn’t feel personable. It can be really awkward. 

Personally, I sometimes think technology hates me


And then there are all of the concerns around safety online. Is the connection truly secure? Can it be hacked? We have all probably been on a Zoom call where someone hacked on and started doing or saying really inappropriate things. 

Now take all of those ideas around what we think of Zoom, and imagine doing online counseling

NO WAY! (At least, that was my first thought.)


But then I started to learn about it more because of the pandemic. People needed help, but they couldn’t come to the office. So how can I help?

That was when I learned how online counseling can actually be a very helpful tool for first responders.  


Here are 4 benefits for first responders who use online counseling services:

  1. Super convenient!
  2. It can actually increase your privacy.
  3. You can see our counselors from anywhere in California.
  4. You can still see your counselor if you travel or move anywhere in California.


1. Super convenient!

Shift work for first responders is a challenge. Try having a social life when you work weekend night shift. Socialize with friends or sleep?

Or maybe you are the spouse of a responder working weekdays. Right when you are getting ready to head out for your counseling session, your kid spikes a fever. No more babysitter for you. 

But guess what? If you want to use online counseling services, you don’t have to worry about the babysitter, or the time for driving to the office taking away from your sleep. 

You can receive helpfulsupportive and competent services as long as you have a device and service strong enough to stream Netflix. 

I have worked with responders who get the session in after they get home from shift, helping them relax before going to sleep. Some folks who sit in their car, outside of their kid’s school before the kids get out, getting an hour session in without worrying if they would make it on time for pick-up. 

Online counseling can alleviate some of the anxiety around fitting a session into your already busy schedule. So easy!


2. It can actually increase your privacy.

As licensed mental health professionals, we prioritize your privacy at the very top of the list (second only to physical safety). 

But I’m going to let you in on a little secret… we are not able to predict the future. (sorry fellow counselors, I know I broke the code!)

When going to in-office appointments, you run the risk of seeing someone you know as you walk into the building, into the office suite, or even in the waiting room

For some folks, this is not a big deal. But for others, keeping their services as private as possible is of the utmost importance. 

When you meet with your counselor online, you can keep your services private even in your home. You can meet with us online, and no one in the home even has to know unless you tell them. 

If you have questions or concerns about the security of the programs utilized, send us a message or reach out and we can tell you what we use. Zoom may be helpful for POA meetings, but it is not appropriate for our counseling sessions. 

We use a program called SimplePractice, and it is a much safer, encrypted, HIPAA-compliant portal for our first responders. 


3. You can receive competent and high-quality services anywhere in the State of California.

This is important for first responders throughout the state of California. 

Finding a provider who is culturally competent in working with first responders, and is accepting new clients, is hard enough as it is. Add in that you don’t live in the Bay Area or Los Angeles, and good luck.

But guess what? If you are in the State of California, you can receive online counseling services from Code 3 Counseling. We work very hard to make sure all patients seeking services can be seen, especially if they live in rural areas with no appropriate providers.

While our office may be in Pacific Grove, you don’t have to go on vacation to receive our services. Maybe you live in Shasta County, Tuolumne County, SLO, Inyo or Imperial County. Or maybe even South Lake Tahoe. If you are struggling with stress, need support for your relationships, or want help for your teen, online counseling can help.

As long as you are within the California State line when you are online with our counselors, you can receive our mental health services.


4. You can still meet with your counselor if you travel or move within the State of California. 

Maybe you are living on the Monterey Peninsula, but you know you won’t be staying in the area (for lots of different reasons).

Knowing that, you might be reluctant to seek services. Getting help, and then leaving in the middle, that's tough.

But here is the thing.

First off, that isn’t true at all, having support of any kind, for as short or as long as you can, can help in some way. (It may not be all you need, but at least it can alleviate some of the struggles.

Aside from that, if you do move somewhere in the State of California, you can continue to see our counselors through online counseling.

And the same is true if you travel. Let’s say you live in Salinas, but you plan on traveling to LA for a couple of weeks to take your kids to Disneyland (post COVID lockdowns). But you still want to make sure you have a session to manage the stress of it all. Online counseling helps here, too!



In 2019, it may have seemed highly unlikely to want to seek online counseling. While COVID has not made life better, it has made it easier and more normalized to seek online counseling

Throughout 2020, and well before, we learned how online counseling can help people manage their stress and anxiety in helpful ways. It can help couples strengthen communication and increase their intimacy with each other. 


So what are you waiting for?

 Call Code 3 Counseling today to find out how online counseling can help you!



Take care, friends!


Alisha Sweyd



Code 3 Counseling is a private mental health provider in Pacific Grove, California. We provide mental health services to first responders and their families throughout the state of California.