Cultural Competence Classes

In 2019, Walk the Talk America formally partnered with Zephyr Wellness to provide cultural competence classes for mental health clinicians who wish to improve their understanding of firearms culture. The introductory class, At the Intersection of Guns and Mental Health, delivers entry-level information on the nuances and intricacies of what constitutes “gun culture” as we know it.
What You’ll Learn
Attendees receive board-approved continuing education credits while learning about WTTA, its mission and history, and statistics about firearm suicides, as well as the myths and stigma surrounding gun ownership as it relates to the overall hesitation gun owners express about seeking mental health treatment. They also learn about three basic components of the firearms culture in America: beliefs, behaviors, and activities. After that, they receive elementary knowledge on the function, handling, use, and storage of firearms through both classroom instruction and a live-fire experience on the range. The final activity is a debrief conducted by WTTA’s clinician training and the attendees discuss how to apply the knowledge they just received in their clinical setting.

Our long-term goal of these classes is to create a multi-stage certificate program wherein clinicians can advertise themselves as Gun Culture Certified. Roughly 42% of Americans on average either own a firearm or live with someone who does,1 meaning that almost half of the clientele who will ever enter counseling have a gun at home. With firearm suicides on the rise,2 mental health practitioners should become fluent at having conversations with gun owners during their mental health struggles and those involving children of parents who own guns.

Walk the Talk America chiefly desires to prevent suicides by firearm. However, we also aim to increase understanding and appreciation, not just among gun owners about mental health care, but also among counselors about what gun ownership really means. By bringing the two cultures together through formalized education, training, and outreach, we plan to bring more healing to all who need it, free from judgment or fear.

Sources
1. Ruth Igielnik and Anna Brown, Key takeaways on Americans’ views of guns and gun ownership (Pew Research Center, 2017), https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/22/key-takeaways-on-americans-views-of-guns-and-gun-ownership.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Increase in Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2018,” https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db362.htm.

Upcoming Classes

An instructor with an assault rifle educates class of mental health professionals on its use
At the Intersection of Guns and Mental Health — The Advanced Course

This course is the final of three parts. If taken in succession, completion will result in achievement of full WTTA certification in firearms and mental health culture. The introductory and intermediate courses have been made available for free.

At the end of this course, attendees will: 

  • increase understanding of firearm mechanics, safety, and function;

  • improve their understanding of firearms broadly, including types, classes, and uses; 

  • improve their understanding of the stigma related to mental health care among gun owners including veterans and first responders; 

  • improve ethical competence as it relates to the five ethical precepts of counseling;

  • further understand “red flag laws” and transfer laws, along with clinician responsibility and ethical scope in Nevada;

  • improve ability to utilize intervention strategies with firearm owners and their families particularly in times of crisis

  • augment knowledge of alternatives to firearm removal in times of crisis

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm PST

Location:
Reno Guns & Range
2325 Market St, Reno, NV

Cost: $75.00

An instructor with an assault rifle educates class of mental health professionals on its use
At the Intersection of Guns and Mental Health — The Advanced Course

This course is the final of three parts. If taken in succession, completion will result in achievement of full WTTA certification in firearms and mental health culture. The introductory and intermediate courses have been made available for free.

At the end of this course, attendees will: 

  • increase understanding of firearm mechanics, safety, and function;

  • improve their understanding of firearms broadly, including types, classes, and uses; 

  • improve their understanding of the stigma related to mental health care among gun owners including veterans and first responders; 

  • improve ethical competence as it relates to the five ethical precepts of counseling;

  • further understand “red flag laws” and transfer laws, along with clinician responsibility and ethical scope in Nevada;

  • improve ability to utilize intervention strategies with firearm owners and their families particularly in times of crisis

  • augment knowledge of alternatives to firearm removal in times of crisis

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

9:00 am – 12:00 pm PST

Location:
Reno Guns & Range
2325 Market St, Reno, NV

Cost: $75.00

What makes our classes unique?

What makes our training programs so special is we are bringing two worlds that have historically been kept apart from each other by bad information. Our classes gives mental health professionals the opportunity to come into a relaxed environment to gain a better understanding of “gun culture.” This is important given how many citizens own or work with firearms. On the flip side, we at WTTA get the opportunity to understand the perspective of the mental health clinician. This gives us all a chance to understand the factual laws and what a mental health professional can and can not do.

Clinicians get a better understanding of the fears that gun owners have which helps them shape their approach and language when discussing firearms ownership. Many of the students in the class were unaware that firearm owners have fear in confiding to a therapist about their gun ownership. The common narrative was that clinicians could have your firearms confiscated if you confided that you might be struggling with your mental health. In most states, this is simply not true. Many people avoid seeking help because of this belief, which in some cases, could lead to a mental health crisis that could be deadly. When gun owners feel comfortable that their therapist is Second Amendment/Gun Culture friendly, they may be more apt to get help.

Many people don’t have an issue with guns, they are just aren’t firearm literate. These classes give us the opportunity to come together and talk about it while learning. Shooting a firearm is an important method by which clinicians can better understand gun culture. The advanced class gives attendees a chance to go through the process with highly qualified professional firearms instructors who will teach that. Whether this is your first time shooting or you have been doing it your whole life, after shooting, attendees will leave the range to debrief their experience with WTTA members who will help them process the emotions and beliefs associated with it. At the end, a group discussion will occur that centers on ethics, policies, and intervention strategies for crisis and non-crisis clinical situations, and how to apply this range experience in those situations. Participants get answers to basic questions like “Why does someone need to own more than one gun?” or “What is the controversy surrounding the AR-15?” Many people are afraid to ask these types of questions to firearms owners because it’s such an emotionally charged subject.
 
Our classes are designed to help mental health professionals get a better understanding of the gun-owning community. There are many different types of gun owners in this country and these classes present all the nuance in firearms ownership. Regardless of whether the clinician decides to reexamine their approach to tackling this subject with their patients, they will have a much better understanding of “gun culture.”