Get to Know Our Director of Clinical and Wellness Services, Sabrina Calle-Bunyi

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Sabrina Calle-Bunyi  is the Director of Clinical and Wellness Services at OCRCC.  Sabrina oversees our therapy program, support groups, and workshops.  As a licensed mental health professional, she is also one of our therapists, providing therapy to survivors and secondary survivors in both Spanish and English. These services are free and can include up to 16 sessions. For more information on those programs, give us a call at 919-968-4647.

Below is a Q&A with Sabrina.

Q: How long have you been a therapist?

I have been a social worker since 2016, but the journey started way before that.  I worked in social services for 10 years before becoming a therapist practicing in a variety of settings, including: a community health center, a group home for teenagers, a juvenile detention center, a youth organization, a psychiatric hospital, and a legal defense firm before focusing my work in the field of trauma as a clinical therapist.

Q: What made you want to be a therapist who works with survivors of SA?

While I have extensive experience working with folks presenting with symptoms of anxiety, depression, or challenging life transitions, I have come to specialize in helping Spanish speakers, teens, young adults, and those with marginalized identities in their healing from relational trauma, including experiences of sexual violence. I would say my focus on the treatment of trauma symptoms became a specialty influenced from both personal professional experiences. As a trauma survivor, I have intimate experience with how acutely disruptive trauma is to not only the mind, but also to the physical body. Experiences of trauma can radically transform how and where pain manifests in our body and our social interactions with others due to a fractured relationship with ourselves.

When trauma stems from sexual violence, the disconnection and mistrust to one’s physical body is often at issue. Having been to therapy to heal from my own experiences of trauma, I took note of how and why certain interventions were or were not chosen. I kept an internal catalog of what approaches helped and which ones very much did not. Through my education and work experiences, I learned why some interventions are more successful than others in healing from trauma and eventually developed my own ideology of practice. As a professional, it became my life’s work to honor the experiences of trauma as uniquely situated in accordance to a person’s specific cultural or social orientation and consider the many factors at play. I focus on alternative treatment options that seek to heal the entire person (i.e. mind and body) versus a cognitive, talk-therapy approach. I have developed the current therapy program at OCRCC with the therapeutic ideology of integrating the mind and body into our treatment approaches. Survivors are resonating with this holistic and integrative therapeutic approach, so we know we are on the right path to providing the best care we can to those in need.

Q: What is your approach when working with a client?

My approach is client centered. All of our clients are voluntary. Clients present what they would like to discuss, they decide on their therapy goals, and suggest the pace accordingly.  I work holistically & collaboratively to help folks re-discover their voice, identify their inherent strengths, and to trust their intuition & bodies, again.

Q: What kind of interventions do you like to use?

We use a combination of interventions, including but not limited to: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR); Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT); Art and Music Therapy; Somatic experiencing techniques; and mindfulness practices, to name a few. We do not limit our intervention choices, as we like to allow a client’s presenting need lead us to the right intervention for that specific client. Thankfully, having formal training in various interventions allows that flexibility.

Q: What else can you tell us about therapy?

Therapy is not easy. It is for the brave. What do I mean by that? I mean to say that the process of looking at your patterns of behavior alongside another spectator (your therapist) is not easy. It takes a certain level of courage to discuss and approach topics you may have never discussed with anyone before. Additionally there is so much stigma around accessing mental health services that often people do not present to therapy until things have been disrupted enough by their traumatic experiences to reach out for help. Maybe they lost a job, a partner, a friend, or have already fully isolated from places or people they used to enjoy being around. People arrive wanting to fix it fast, and this is not how therapy works. There is no quick fix and it can be discouraging to hear this truth particularly given in our current social culture of instant gratification.

The reality is that healing is obtainable, but it takes commitment and a trusted therapist. Key to the success of therapy is having a therapist you just vibe with. Someone with whom you can build a strong and trusted relationship with is very important to the process. The search for the right therapist can feel daunting, but stick with it and you will feel stronger, more capable, and recognize and overall shift that will help you to move through toward healing. It is worth it to seek help and find someone whose approach and therapeutic style works for what you need. We all deserve the space to heal.


From Our Resource Library: The Body Keeps the Score

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51o19FK0TKL._AA300_Survivors of sexual violence often struggle with anxiety, depression, symptoms of PTSD, or sleep disorders, which are sometimes dismissed as being “all in your head.” Based on decades of practice and research, Bessel van der Kolk shows how traumatic experiences leave a physical imprint in his book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Despite the somewhat intimidating small print and large number of pages, this book is an invaluable resource for anyone working through trauma or supporting survivors of trauma.

Kolk begins by explaining how the brain processes traumatic incidents. The threat of danger triggers the fight, flight, or freeze response, which changes how somebody interprets, processes, and remembers a traumatic experience. Due to the different ways people interpret trauma, survivors exhibit a range of responses when dealing with the aftermath of an assault. Some may express intense emotions, like rage or hopelessness, while others may seem shut down or disconnected. Many survivors experience all of these responses at different times during their healing process.

Traumatic experiences are also stored in the memory differently than day-to-day experiences. They are fragmented memories, which increases the likelihood of experiencing ongoing difficulties after an assault. This often manifests through flashbacks during which a survivor might feel as though they are reliving an assault, shattering any sense of safety and causing survivors to feel frustrated with a slow healing process. Read more


Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay

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Questions to Ask Before Giving Up

everything hurtsAre you hydrated? If not, have a glass of water.

Have you eaten in the past three hours? If not, get some food — something with protein, not just simple carbs. Perhaps some nuts or hummus?

Have you showered in the past day? If not, take a shower right now.

If daytime: are you dressed? If not, put on clean clothes that aren’t pajamas. Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it’s a funny t-shirt or a pretty dress.

If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but resisting going to sleep? Put on pajamas, make yourself cozy in bed with a teddy bear and the sound of falling rain, and close your eyes for fifteen minutes — no electronic screens allowed. If you’re still awake after that, you can get up again; no pressure.

Have you stretched your legs in the past day? If not, do so right now. If you don’t have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please. If the weather’s crap, drive to a big box store (e.g. Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip.

Have you said something nice to someone in the past day? Do so, whether online or in person. Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it. Read more


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