2023 Advancing Post-Traumatic Growth Event

Presenters & Their Workshops


Dr. Ian Shulman

Clinical Psychologist
Vice-Chair of Badge of Life Canada

Keeping a First Responders’ Marriage Strong

First responders and public safety personnel face different types of stressors than other people
do. The same goes for their marital and family relationships. Non-standard work shifts,
mandatory overtime and unpredictability can all wreak havoc with family schedules and
contribute to conflict. So can fatigue, exposure to trauma, and the challenges of switching
between behaviours that ‘work’ at work but not at home or in family settings. This workshop
will focus on specific types of problems and challenges common in the close relationships of
first responders and public safety personnel, and provide concrete strategies to help address

Recovering from Cumulative Stress and Trauma

Public safety careers expose people to significantly more stress, trauma, death and challenge
than most other career paths. Generally speaking, public safety agencies have been
notoriously poor at providing their personnel with time, resources and support to offset those
exposures. The result is higher rates of trauma and stress, and too often, feelings of brokenness and failure. This workshop will focus on practical tools and strategies professional
therapists use to help people recover from trauma and reclaim their functioning and their lives. Even when forest fires appear to destroy the land they burn, that process actually replenishes the soil, fueling it for the next phase of growth. In similar ways, trauma can be viewed as ‘a new beginning’ rather than just an end.

Joddie Walker

Registered Psychotherapist
Badge of Life Canada Director

Creating Calm in Chaos:
Growing the First Responder Family’s Resilience to Trauma and Anxiety

Creating Calm in Chaos: Growing the First Responder Family’s Resilience to Trauma and Anxiety.
Children’s mental health challenges have compounded from the past years. What’s more, children of first responders have unique stressors and worries. They can fear losing a parent in the line of duty, they are exposed to stories of loss, illness and danger and have parent(s) doing shift work. As a first responder, you’re expected to know what to do, how to do it and what to say-even in the middle of chaos or crisis. Yet, when you walk through the door to your home, you are challenged by big emotions coming from your own children. The unique factors of your work play through your mind and influence your own emotions and reactions.
This workshop aims to equip first responders with the knowledge and skills required to improve coping in their own children and build family resilience.
o The impact of work-related trauma exposure on your role as a first responder parent,
o Common child/youth mental health symptoms, post pandemic,
o Intergenerational trauma and domains of impact,
o Six discipline strategies that backfire with children who are in a state of stress,
o Skills to build Co-regulation and healthy attachment,
o How emotions drive behaviours,
o Managing strong emotions for the parent, child and teen,
o Strategies for building family resilience.


Tamara Roitman

Full time firefighter
Badge of Life Canada Director

Creating Calm in Chaos:
Supporting First Responder’s Actions and Reactions when Children are on Scene

First Responder’s command calm in chaos. They arrive on scene and bring order, instill safety, or implement medical procedures that ensure those on sight are stable. For many first responders, children on scene invoke strong emotional reactions. Many tell themselves, “I didn’t do enough”, or, “did I make a difference?”.
When we leave a scene feeling haunted by images and you question your role and interactions, we are vulnerable to the traumatic impact of the job.
Becoming empowered with both psychoeducation and skills, the first responder strengthens their armour against the traumatic impact of helping the most vulnerable of our community.
o How do children perceive a traumatic event,
o Chidlren/youth’s reactions to traumatic stress,
o Loss and Grief and Trauma,
o How do children’s reactions change over time,
o Age-related responses to trauma,
o The importance of rapport,
o Dealing with difficult questions,
o Tips for working with parents,
o Strategies to create calm in chaos,
o Tips for first responder self-care.

Workshop co-facilitated with Joddie Walker

Sylvio (Syd) Gravel

Retired from the Ottawa Police Service
Co-founder of Badge of Life Canada


Dan Bowers

Retired Ontario Police Officer

The Value of Peer Support

Peer support is the foundation piece through which lived experience connects with empathy to those who have been traumatized and gets them to the help they need, medical or psychological, and supports them through the process of healing with reassurance and guidance and once they are strong enough, lets them go without obligation to the support that was offered.
No one mental health service product can stand on its own…it all needs to work as one for the benefit of the sufferer.
This workshop will share information as it relates to:
• Spectrum of Peer Support
• The Status of Peer Support Training in Canada
• On-Going Research on Peer Support
• Developing Peer Support within an organization
• Implementation of a Peer Support Program within an organization
• The Value of Family Involvement
o And more…

Workshop co-facilitated with Brad McKay & Dan Bowers

Brad McKay

Retired Staff Sergeant
York Regional Police

Proactive Leadership – Slay the Toxic Dragon

Toxicity is one word no executive ever wants to hear as it relates to their organization. It is understandable that organizations and the leaders within want to portray their work environment as supportive of their members when it comes to mental health. Leadership happens at every level of an organization. Everyone has a responsibility to do what they can to ensure a psychological healthy and safe workplace.
In order to provide a non-toxic and safe workplace, leaders need to be able to identify what a toxic workplace looks like, what types of behaviours contribute to it, and what the consequences are including how it can damage our members.
Your presenters have a combined experience of over 100 years in supporting members who have been psychologically injured by a toxic work environment. Lived experience is our best teacher.
Toxicity can be very subtle. The more people talk about respect and support within the workplace the more elusive and conniving and controlling sources of toxicity can become. If it isn’t nipped in the bud, then toxicity can destroy an organization.
This workshop is truly about leaders taking ownership of their own environment and doing what is right. The more they know about what can go wrong the more likely they are to not let it take hold.

Workshop co-facilitated with Dr. Barbara Anschuetz and Syd Gravel


Dr. Barbara Anschuetz

Registered Psychotherapist
Certified Trauma Psychotherapist

Proactive Leadership Workshop co-facilitator

Barbara is a registered psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, The Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals, and a Certified Trauma Treatment Specialist (CTTS). She graduated with a doctoral degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Toronto. Barbara is also trained in Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), to name a few. Barbara has 30+ years of clinical experience in the area of trauma and grief with first responders, military and community members. She has also provided service as the former Clinical Director of the York Region CISM Team, disaster response to national and international trauma, was a member of a national expert panel on PTSD and is currently a Peer Support member of the Mood Disorder Society of Canada. Along with colleagues, Syd Gravel and Brad McKay, Barbara has recently co-authored a book on police leadership.


Gary Rubie

Retired Ontario Police Officer
Advisor to Badge of Life Canada

Lived Experience

Gary will share his journey through his career and how he was forced to leave the job he loved after 25 years due his diagnosis of Complex, Cumulative and Incident Related PTS. He will discuss the challenges of navigating the Health Care System and the WSIB under the old legislation and the positive changes that have occurred over the past decade. This testimonial is a sharing of Hope and Redemption, processing sanctuary trauma, anger, resentment and eventually finding forgiveness, spirituality and joy in POST TRAUMATIC GROWTH.


Dr. Christina Harrington

Dr. Christina Harrington

Registered social worker offering professional guidance towards personal well-being.


Grief cuts across human experience and can impact our physical and emotional health. Public service personnel encounter, and are exposed to, tremendous grief and loss on a regular basis, but what happens when that grief cannot be expressed or acknowledged? This workshop will explore the evolving understanding of grief and bereavement, as well as the overlay with trauma and how to help accommodate experiences of death. We will also look specifically at notifications and the impacts of this of this as well as strategies to manage the same.


Retirement is often thought of thought of as our “Golden Years’. For public safety personnel, however, this major life transition can be fraught with unexpected challenges related to physical and mental health; social identity and connection to others and shifting the brain from a work mode to the home environment. This presentation will challenge participants to think about retirement planning – right from the beginning of their career- with increased depth and breadth. Participants will be encouraged to examine the actions they have taken and ones they may wish to consider. Understanding the family as a unit in this significant life transition is also acknowledged and tools are provided to assist in successfully embracing this next stage of life.


Wendy Lund

MSc in Mindfullness Studies
Expert in building proactive resiliency

The HERO at Home

The culture that 1st responders work in significantly impacts their psychological health and wellbeing. Organizations play a huge part in supporting or eroding the wellbeing of the 1st responder, but what of the families back home? Like the 1st responders, family members are often left alone to figure out how to cope with the very same occupational stressors their loved ones face. Hope, Efficacy, Resiliency and Optimism are the main constructs of what is referred to as PsyCap; these internal resources we all need to manage through adversity and challenges. In this session we’ll explore how we can cultivate the HERO and leave you with a few take away strategies to get you started.


Bob & Tonia Ferguson

Bob is a Retired Ontario Firefighter
Bob / Tonia – Peer Support Specialists


A firefighter’s battle with PTSD and how he and his wife answered the call to action: Sharing their journey and educating first responders and their families on Operational Stress Injuries.


Craig Peddle

Retired Ontario Police Officer
Founder / CEO of PTSD Zone
Advisor to Badge of Life Canada

Introspective View on Mental Wellness

This engaging discussion will focus on lessons learned by focusing on the importance of self-care, proper and timely reporting of work related stress injuries and the prevention of long-lasting trauma. Key pointers on the dynamics of management and those mental health challenges that encompass the ever-changing landscape of leadership and the employee/employer relationship. The delegate will come away with an introspective view regarding the challenges of mental wellness, self-care and leadership.


A short description of the various therapist certifications in Ontario.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical Psychologists are required to complete a related Masters and Ph.D. program to practice in the province of Ontario that must be research-based and subsequently have a thesis component. They are governed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO).

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Registered Psychotherapists

Registered Psychotherapists (RPs) are registered by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) and, like Registered Social Workers and Clinical Psychologists, are permitted to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy.

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Registered Social Workers

Registered Social Workers (RSW) are helping individuals to enhance their well-being. They are governed by the Ontario College of Social Workers.