I suppose the immediate thing that most comes to mind with the phrase “first aid treatment” is that of accident or emergency and a physical need for medical attention.

And of course, that’s just as important within a therapy session as in any other area within our daily life.

So would you know what to do, if you thought the client in front of you might be seriously ill with chest pains, symptoms of a stroke etc?

How would you manage a client in the throes of a panic attack?

Is your client seriously allergic to anything and having an anaphylactic shock?  Or perhaps they suffer from epilepsy and are displaying the symptoms of starting a fit.  Or perhaps they are diabetic and suddenly low on sugar  potentially experiencing the onset of hypoglycaemia.

Yes, I know that all sounds very melodramatic, and obviously you would need to access medical attention pretty fast in some of those situations, but life happens.

I have experienced a client hyperventilating (always carry a brown paper bag with you – and know what to do with it!), and a therapist having an asthma attack.

I also experienced my therapy room being invaded by a large wasp and while I’m not allergic to wasps, I’m not good with them at very close quarters in a confined space.  My therapist paused the session to remove the wasp in question!

Obviously as well as physical emergencies, there are also occasional emotional or mental emergencies – the actively suicidal client in particular.

In all these situations, we need to take a deep breath, know what we can do, know when to call for help and how to support the client in the meantime while help arrives.

So, please don’t think “it won’t happen to me”.  Be properly prepared with at least some basic first aid knowledge; a good knowledge of your client in terms of medical history and medications; and a clear action plan for when times get tough.

Last year I had an accident during work hours on one of my contracts – I came off my bike in an unavoidable collision with quite a sudden and sharp exit!  Other staff were around to pick up the pieces along with a medical centre fully staffed with nurses.

But if we are working alone in any building or our own home, we might be the only person around to help.

So look after yourself, and your client well.