Helping Children and Teens Affected by Domestic Violence on their Journey to Healing
We offer programming specifically designed for youth who have been affected by domestic violence. Through their participation in the program, children learn that they are not alone in their journey, find their voice, and experience parts of themselves that they haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience. Ultimately youth can begin to see their future in a new light.
- Therapeutic Play. (4 and up) Children can work with our staff in a safe space where they can freely learn to interact with other children with gentle redirection. Therapeutic play typically occurs while their parents are in individual or group counseling in order to have a separate space to openly discuss the abuse they have endured.
- Parent/Infant/Toddler. (4 and under). Services focus on psycho-educational information about child infant development, bonding and safety.
- Individual and Family Therapy. For youth 5 and older). As requested by the parent, children and teens can engage on individual or family counseling on a weekly basis.
- Group Sessions. (For 5 years and older) Youth can attend up to 3 group sessions a week where they can participate in activities to help them process their experiences gently and without pressure. Further, youth learn to lessen stress, increase coping skills and mitigate the long-term negative impacts of abuse.
- School Advocacy. When children arrive at the shelter, families are assisted with ensuring enrollment to the schools nearby. We also act as a liaison between the families and the school to advocate on the family’s behalf whenever necessary.
Our youth programming focuses on four key elements:
One of the core principles of helping a child begin to heal from witnessing domestic violence is establishing a sense a safety. Though children may only spend a few months in the shelter, the program helps them feel safe to begin the long healing process. We provide a warm, welcoming environment for children to begin processing their experiences without judgement.
Continued research shows that children have better outcomes when their mothers learn about the impact of the violence on their child and practice positive parenting techniques. We provide psychoeducation to parents, teaching them about the biological effects of trauma, so that they can better understand why their child may be behaving or responding in a particular way. This makes it possible for mothers to better understand the experiences, perspectives and reactions of their children.
All Children and Teen Program staff have been trained in a trauma-informed practices. We’ve moved away from the traditional medical model of asking what is wrong with a child to asking what has happened to them. Understanding that the effects of trauma can appear in different ways and that traditional talk therapy may not be effective for everyone, especially young children who may not have the vocabulary to express themselves, we began implementing a trauma-informed program called A Window Between Worlds. A Window Between Worlds utilizes art to provide families a safe and creative space to express their emotions, tell their stories and begin to recognize their self-worth.
In order for a parent to be fully present and connected to her child, they needs to first cope with their own emotions in the wake of abuse. Children and Teen Program staff collaborate with adult counselors and work directly with parents to help them unpack their experiences and gain self-confidence so they can work towards being the best support system possible for their child.