The SOS residential program is for emergency responder partners and spouses who have been affected by their loved one’s critical incidents (resulting in secondary or vicarious trauma), but may also be experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety and need a program to address their needs. In addition, Significant Others and Spouses may have their own trauma histories, which are re-activated when their loved ones experience a traumatic event. Some attend SOS before their loved one attends WCPR, some after. Others attend SOS, yet their loved one (first responder) did not attend WCPR; some SOS attendees are divorced or widowed.
SOS is a program of the First Responder Support Network (FRSN), staffed by experienced mental health clinicians, the significant others or spouses of first responders, and chaplains specifically trained in trauma recovery. All of these individuals volunteer their time while participating in the retreats. Clinicians close their practice for a week, peer support members spend vacation, comp time, or trade shifts, taking time away from their families, and chaplains also take time off of their jobs. Why do all of these people give of their time? Because they ‘get it’ and they care.
The SOS program was started in 2004. Dr. Ann Buscho, who is a police officer’s wife and a family psychologist, felt that first responder families would benefit from a program similar to WCPR. Ann, along with Dr. Mark Kamena, the current Research Director of FRSN, and other WCPR staff members collaborated to begin the SOS program. Since then, with the help of peers, Dr. Mark Kamena, and Dr. Ellen Kirschman, SOS has developed into a unique program designed to address the complex needs of spouses and partners. This program is currently offered at minimal cost to the attendees. It is the only program of its kind in the country. SOS is for both female and male significant others and spouses of first responders.
Attendees spend 6 six very full days at our beautiful retreat house in Northern California. Meals and lodging are provided at no additional charge. Over the course of 6 days and 5 nights, attendees participate in intensive education, treatment, and self-care modules. The core of the program includes extensive debriefings in a group, individual therapy sessions with specially trained clinicians, and a 90-day plan for follow-up treatment and action steps. The presence of a chaplain throughout the week lends a spiritual aspect to the group process. About 6 attendees are in each SOS retreat, and the group usually develops a tight bond by the end of their stay. Many have stayed in contact with each other following their stay at SOS and some return to SOS as volunteer peers.
If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, isolation, suicidal thoughts, sleep problems, relationship stress, work difficulties, the loss of a spouse or partner, domestic abuse or violence, addiction issues, are having trouble coping with daily activities, etc., then you should seek help. If you have had previous counseling and/or medication without improvement in your symptoms, then SOS may be right for you.
If you would like to attend SOS, call for an initial telephone intake interview. This interview will take about 30 minutes, allowing time for you and the Client Intake Coordinator to determine if the SOS retreat is a good fit for you. Call (415) 721-9789 and ask to talk with someone about attending SOS program.
The Mission of the SOS retreat is to provide a safe and confidential environment for the promotion of healing, education, and support.
…my life has always been about taking care of everyone else. …SOS allowed me to look forward, take care of myself and focus on me for once.SOS client
This has been a life altering experience. I am deeply grateful. …The people are beautiful souls. …Their work is transformational.SOS client
The change that you have made in my life is indescribable. I arrived feeling very lonely, hopeless, trapped and unloved… You helped me learn that I am lovable…SOS client
When I went through the program as a client I thought I was there to learn how to fix my First Responder husband. What I learned was I needed to fix myself. This helped me tremendously in my relationship with my husband and family.SOS client
The SOS Clinicians and Peer support staff immediately made me relax and “trust the process”. The retreat’s refreshing reality shown with humor and in knowledge was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.SOS client