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Into the fire : applying Rational Emotive Behavioral Coaching (REBC) to reduce Irrational Beliefs and Stress in Fire Service Personnel

Wood, Andrew, Wilkinson, Andrew, Turner, Martin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1975-5561, Haslam, Cheryl and Barker, Jamie (2021) Into the fire : applying Rational Emotive Behavioral Coaching (REBC) to reduce Irrational Beliefs and Stress in Fire Service Personnel. International Journal of Stress Management, 28 (3). pp. 232-243. ISSN 1072-5245

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There is a scarcity of literature that reports the effects of psychological interventions to help members of the fire service operate amongst a plethora of work-related stressors. Recently, Rational Emotive Behavior Coaching (REBC) has been established as an efficacious approach to foster psychological well-being in performance contexts (e.g., elite sport, business, emergency services). Our present study is the first to explore the effects of REBC on subjective and objective (biomarkers) markers aligned with psychological well-being with a specialized and hard-to-access population of fire service personnel. Using a between groups (experimental vs. control groups) pretest–posttest field design, the immediate and maintained effects of an individualized one-to-one REBC training program (over a 12-week period) were examined on irrational performance beliefs, resilience, chronic stress [i.e., hair cortisol concentration (HCC)], emotional distress and presenteeism in fire service personnel. Data showed that REBC brought about maintained reductions in irrational performance beliefs. Social validation data also indicated that REBC helped participants to better overcome adversities within and external to the workplace. Results suggested that REBC did not have a meaningful effect on HCC, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and presenteeism. The efficacy of REBC as an evidence based and theoretically driven psychological framework to facilitate psychological well-being for those operating in the emergency services, and more broadly extreme occupational settings are discussed.

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