The terms “therapy” and “counseling” can be used in many different ways, but in our work, we use them to mean different and specific things. To distinguish between the two, it may be helpful to refer to the latter as “crisis counseling” or “crisis intervention.”
Crisis intervention is a brief service conducted by trained professionals that focuses on offering stability and support during an episode of crisis or period of specific need. The advocate provides emotional support, assesses the client’s needs, brainstorms and explains options, and assists the client in connecting with helpful resources. Depending on what’s needed at the time, the session may aim to resolve an emotional or mental health crisis, or it may aim to answer specific questions or connect to specific resources. Crisis intervention is intended to be a short-term intervention rather than an ongoing source of support: Most OCRCC clients talk to an advocate anywhere from one to five times. When someone is in an immediate crisis, crisis intervention works to resolve the current episode so that the client is able to focus on their long-term healing process. Often one of the helpful resources that advocates connect clients to is therapy.
Therapy goes beyond immediate stabilization to help clients begin the journey of healing from trauma and other major life stressors. In the process of healing, therapy aims to manage and resolve trauma symptoms in the long term. Therapy is an intervention delivered by licensed mental health professionals who are required to document and justify their treatment strategies. Therapy is a longer-term service designed to move past stabilization and delve into the causes of stressors. The Center’s Bilingual Therapy Program provides up to 16 sessions of trauma-focused therapy to aid survivors in processing their trauma and alleviating their triggers and symptoms.
Sexual assault victim advocates and trauma therapists often work together to meet all of the survivors’ needs so that they can move from surviving to thriving. Advocates – like our expert staff and trained volunteer Companions – help to stabilize clients during episodes of crisis, whether prior to beginning therapy or in between therapy sessions. Our therapists provide a safe space for survivors to dig deeper into painful experiences and resolve emotional and somatic reactions so that they can live a full life.
The impacts of sexual violence can include a wide array of frustrations and barriers to daily functioning for survivors. Watching from the sidelines as a loved one struggles with those difficulties can bring a similar yet different sense of helplessness and frustration. Secondary survivors — the partners, friends, and family members of survivors — often go through their own trauma response as a result of hearing about the survivor’s experiences and witnessing the negative impacts.
Whether a primary survivor is still reeling in the immediate aftermath of having experienced sexual violence, or whether they are struggling with flashbacks and triggers months or years after the initial incident, it can be painful to watch someone experiencing a crisis. It is important to note that a crisis is different than an emergency. An emergency presents imminent risk of physical harm, whereas a crisis is the mental and emotional response when a situation is too overwhelming to be handled by regular coping methods.
We’d like to share a special thank you to Ronald McDonald House Charities and Wells Fargo, who have recently made gifts to the Center to support our Community Education and Latino Services programs.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Carolina supports our Community Education program. The Center offers educational programs for both raising awareness about sexual violence and teaching prevention skills in an age-appropriate manner. Trained educators teach children basic safety lessons such as what to do if they experience violence, how to recognize warning signs in order to prevent it, how to avoid bullying and cyber-bullying others, and how to safely intervene as active bystanders. Core lessons include the Personal Safety Saying (“Say No, Get Away, and Tell Someone”), the difference between good and bad touches, when not to keep a secret, and identifying trusted adults to talk to in the case of violence. The Center reaches over 10,000 youth and adults each year with this crucial safety education. Some of those 10,000 youth and adults are local Spanish-speakers, whom we reach out to through our Latino Services program.
Wells Fargo recently awarded the Center a grant to support our outreach and services for the Latino community. In addition to bilingual education programs as listed above, all our crisis services are also bilingual. Anyone needing support can call our 24-Hour Help Line and request to speak to someone in Spanish. Our bilingual Companions and our Spanish-Speaking Advocates (those who speak only Spanish) respond to crisis calls, offering support, information, and referrals. They can also accompany survivors to the hospital, the police, or court. In addition to help line services, the Center also offers support groups for Spanish speakers.
Our Community Education and our Latino Services programs are vital to preventing violence and supporting survivors. We very much appreciate the support that Ronald McDonald House Charities and Wells Fargo provide to ensure these programs are successful.
We support survivors of all types of sexual violence, such as rape, assault, harassment, stalking, sex trafficking, incest, and child sexual abuse. We are also available to talk to those who feel negatively impacted by a sexual experience. Our services are available to all members of the community regardless of race, socioeconomic class, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, language, national origin, and immigration status.