Ep 20: Caring for Our First Responders with Lona Snell

Today listeners can look forward to an insightful interview with Lona Snell who is a Christian counselor in the community. Lona has her own practice where she and other counselors work with first responders and their families, focusing on the interaction between their work and home lives. In the past few months since the outbreak of COVID-19, first responders have been in the crossfire, risking their own safety and lives to help others. Dealing with life and death situations daily, these people experience perpetual trauma, which inevitably affects their wellbeing in the long run and frequently results in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If the trauma remains unresolved, these people may battle with anger, addiction, substance abuse, and a host of other issues, therefore behaving very differently in public than at home — the worst of which affects spouses and children. In this episode, Lana advises on how each of us can become better at supporting first responders, being sensitive listeners and equipping spouses and children to correctly interpret the sometimes unpredictable behavior. She also discusses the importance of self-care, effective communication within families, counterbalancing trauma, and the role that others can play in a person’s journey to healing.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An overview of Lona’s interests and focus areas in her counseling practice.
  • Those who are considered first responders: firefighters, dispatchers, funeral directors, etc.
  • Find out what all Lona’s credentials mean, from CART to CCTP and EMDR.
  • The main issues that the first responder population tends to face and how they self-medicate.
  • The disconnect between the public and private life of the first responder. 
  • How these workers often accumulate “compound” trauma and the symptoms of PTSD.
  • Hear what happens when trauma remains unresolved or is constantly suppressed.
  • The importance of knowing how to respond appropriately when someone opens up to you.
  • Understanding that vulnerability is strength and the place where powerful change happens.
  • Children’s inaccurate interpretation of disengaged first responder parents.
  • The many faces of compassion fatigue: insomnia, depression, excessive sarcasm.    
  • Teaching kids how they can respond to and support their parents at home.
  • Advice about the appropriate amount of sharing with kids and how to model self-care.
  • Counterbalancing work-related trauma by surrounding yourself with uplifting things.
  • Approaching faith in counseling and the role people play in demonstrating the love of God.
  • An encouraging story about a first responder giving back after finding healing for himself.


“When people do attempt to open up, it is so important for all of us, even the general population, to know how to correctly respond to that as well and be supportive and to listen.” — Lona Snell  [0:15:03]

“You can tell a lot when the sarcasm gets really heavy…when it starts becoming everything is negative and everything is sarcastic and it becomes to an extreme, that is usually a sign that somebody is having burnout and compassion fatigue.” — Lona Snell [0:24:38]

“Through those tragedies, you can see and feel the love of God through people.” Lona Snell [0:34:23]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Lona Snell

Lona Snell on LinkedIn


Brené Brown

Mosaics of Mercy

Sherry Burkhard on LinkedIn


You can listen here on our website or through the links below. However, we highly recommend subscribing so you can automatically receive each new episode. To do so, click one of the subscribe options below.



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