Briefly tell us about your role at the CAC.
I am the Clinical Supervisor at the CAC, which means there are a multitude of things that I do on a daily basis. Part of my role is to support our counseling team and make sure that they have access to trainings, tools, and the appropriate supervision to be able to provide excellent trauma informed counseling to our clients. Another part of my role is to supervise and train our Master’s level interns each year. They are an integral part of our therapy team and go on to use their trauma-informed skills to help children and families within our communities upon graduation. My favorite thing I do, however, is to provide direct counseling services to children and teenagers who are survivors of sexual abuse. My clients range in age from 3-18 and I enjoy being able to individualize treatment to match their unique skill sets, interests, and personalities.
What do you want the community to know about child sexual abuse?
I want the community to know that while child sexual abuse will impact 1 in 10 children within Kent County, those effects do not need to have lifelong implications for survivors. Children learn very quickly that the people in their lives want them to be okay, so they work very hard to put on a brave face and at times hide the pain and hurt that they carry on the inside. When a child experiences a major trauma like child sexual abuse, there are many trauma related symptoms that they may develop causing changes to the ways that they think, feel, and behave. Connecting a child to trauma specific counseling can help them to learn about the ways that trauma has caused changes to their bodies, as well as communicate that it is okay to talk about the pain and hurt they may be experiencing. Counseling can provide children with the tools that they need to cope with their trauma and can help them to process through the pain so that child sexual abuse does not have to define them, or their future.
What is it about your work that keeps you here and motivated?
What motivates me is having the privilege to witness strength, resilience, and courage every single day. It’s the 11 year old who holds their head high despite their fears while they testify against their offender in a criminal trial. It’s the 8 year old who finally feels ready to share their story and smiles when they say “and it wasn’t my fault.” It’s the 17 year old who applies to college and is preparing for a future that one year prior they never thought would be a possibility for themselves. It’s the 4 year old that proudly proclaims they are the boss of their body and feels empowered to make their own choices about safety. It is a collection of the smallest of moments that build together to make the picture I hold of child sexual abuse not one of pain and suffering, but one of hope, healing, and perseverance.
What do you hope for the CAC in the future?
My ultimate hope for the CAC is that one day it has to close its doors because we have finally eradicated child sexual abuse from our community. While we work towards that goal, I hope that the Children’s Advocacy Center is able to continue to expand the services that they directly provide to children and families. Having spaces to implement art therapy and play therapy within our new building has demonstrated the power of creative therapeutic modalities and I would love to see these types of healing opportunities continue to develop not just for children, but for their caregivers as well. We have an amazingly dedicated and creative staff, and I cannot wait to see how our programs evolve in the future!