Featured Program: Counseling
By: Nirvana Habash
CCS sits down with Dany Wilson, Counseling Services Manager, to find out more about the work our therapists are doing to provide hope and healing to survivors of sexual abuse and relationship violence.
The mission of Center for Community Solutions is to end relationship and sexual violence by being a catalyst for caring communities and social justice.
CCS: Explain the role of the counseling department at CCS. How does your work impact CCS’ image?
Dany Wilson: The counseling department is an important step in the long journey to healing and personal empowerment that each and every client experiences, as well as a catalyst for change in the mental health field relating to sexual assault, domestic violence and trauma.
The team uses a non-judgmental approach, as well as an open mind, to allow the client to make their own choices for treatment. At CCS, we prioritize empowerment, which means we encourage every survivor to make the best decisions they can without simply telling them what to do. This allows survivors to be the source of their own process, growth or change. The counseling team makes it a priority to treat each client with care by practicing a trauma-informed approach. This approach allows us to build a safe place for clients where they can find their personal power and self-worth, reaffirm who they are, process their experiences to aid the process of regaining control over their own lives, and ultimately to break the cycle of violence..
How many staff members do you have, and what are their qualifications?
Counseling has a total of five staff (including three therapists) in addition to nine interns and additional Bachelor or Master’s in Social Work (BSW/MSW) students.
Within our team, we have a total of five Master’s degrees— four in Clinical Counseling Psychology (MFT) — and two doctoral candidates. Our trainees are in their last year of a Master’s in Counseling program or are in a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree program in Social Work.
Who should seek counseling?
Anyone who has survived relationship or sexual violence and is experiencing trauma in their lives. We see individuals, families, couples and children of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. It doesn’t matter if the abuse was recent or years ago.
Any would of advice?
Counseling does not have to be scary or intimidating. It takes a lot of courage to make the call or show up to your first session; however once you do, you may find that counseling really is a safe environment for anyone who would like to process and move through their experiences of trauma, anxiety, depression or daily stresses.
What types of counseling does CCS offer/practice?
CCS offers counseling, both individual sessions and group therapy, to anyone who has experienced sexual assault or domestic violence in their lives. We practice trauma informed therapy approaches which allow us to utilize techniques that are individualized and client centered. In the past we have organized art and dance therapy and we have provided therapy groups specifically for Spanish-speakers or members of the LGBTQ community.
What are the benefits of individual versus group counseling?
Sometimes we are not ready to share our stories to others and need the safety of one person whom we can trust to hold our story, who will remain confidential and who can help us heal. This is the experience that a client can receive in individual counseling. It is a good place to let go and feel both understood and accepted. In a group, the client has an advantage to learn and gain support from others. Group members see that they are not alone and also gain strength from sharing with other people’s successes. The client also has the choice to share their story, which can empower them to take control over their story rather than have the story take control of them. Whether a client chooses individual or group therapy, each has a special place in the process of healing and can assist in the healing process. It is up to the client if they wish to participate in individual counseling, group, or a combination of both.
What CCS locations offer counseling?
CCS offers its counseling services at our Pacific Beach, El Cajon, and Escondido offices, as well as in our shelters. Drop-in support groups and curriculum-based groups will begin again in the Fall.
How does someone enroll in CCS counseling?
To enroll in counseling all you have to do is call the CCS office closest to you and ask for our intake line. You can see a list of our offices by visiting www.ccssd.org. A counselor will follow up within 48 hours.