At Ampersand, we understand that it is common for survivors to experience triggers that result in some or all of the following: jumpiness, nightmares, intrusive memories, shame, self-blame, re-living the trauma, withdrawal from people, struggles with intimacy, fear, difficulty concentrating, avoidance of triggers, numbness, anxiety, panic attacks, and more. Sometimes these symptoms are mild and sometimes they make it hard to navigate day-to-day tasks. Also, many survivors are managing the daily effects of sexual trauma in addition to the accumulative impact of racism, transphobia, addiction, gender biases, immigrant bias, homophobia, and a culture with a tendency to focus on the choices of the survivor instead of the actions of the perpetrator, among other intersections.
Ampersand’s understanding of these common struggles are what guide our trauma informed approach to providing Crisis Counseling and Therapy services. Ampersand’s trauma informed method seeks to avoid re-victimization throughout the survivor’s experience with us. Our staff members recognize that some behaviors that risk an individual’s health, safety, and relationships are a result of the survivor’s efforts to cope or survive their trauma. Our staff members want to provide options to survivors no matter how recent or how long ago your trauma happened, and are aware that other pieces of your identity may have an impact on you and your trauma.
When individuals who have survived a sexual trauma contact our crisis line to request counseling services, the volunteer or staff person will begin to ask questions in an attempt to help direct you to the counseling services that you feel will best meet your needs. All of the ways in which we offer support are free for everyone. We will also travel to meet you within our 17-county region, provide a translator, and provide transportation.
For survivors who have experienced a more recent trauma, our Crisis Counseling program was developed to assist survivors with safety, advocacy, and support. The Crisis Counseling program can assist survivors who are navigating the legal system but wish they didn’t have to do it alone. Crisis Counseling is for the survivor who is seeking to learn new ways to manage the trauma symptoms that are impacting their life and relationships. Crisis Counseling can assist survivors with learning new ways to manage the triggers instead of feeling overwhelmed by them. This program will also emphasize the critical need for self-care and connect you with helpful resources in the community to enhance your support system.
Unfortunately, there are times when Ampersand experiences a waiting list for the Therapy Program. The list can vary in length in terms of a few weeks up to 4-6 months. When this is the case, those survivors who are requesting therapy services and are not in crisis, will be offered up to 3 symptom management sessions while they are waiting. We understand that it is hard enough to place the call but it is even more frustrating to have to wait. You will be connected with an Ampersand counselor or therapist to work through some of your more immediate needs. At this time, you may also be offered referrals to other trauma informed therapists in our service area as well.
Our therapy program is ideal for survivors who have a history of childhood sexual abuse that happened once or over a period of time, or have experienced multiple traumas and are looking to learn to manage the triggers but also to process the traumatic material and obtain resolution. Ampersand therapists are skilled in numerous therapy modalities and tend to move at a pace that is manageable for the survivor. Our trauma informed approach begins with providing survivors information about trauma and the brain. The skill building of positive resources and coping strategies before moving forward to address traumatic material. Next, we work to identify and eliminate/reduce the negative beliefs, emotions, and body sensations that are associated with the trauma. Finally, we assist survivors with strengthening the new self where trauma is no longer interfering in the present but is another experience of the past.