Image for post
Image for post

by Anti-Violence Project at Center on Halsted

If you’re visiting this post, you may be wondering what therapy looks like! Many people think that going to therapy means there is something “wrong” with them. We may have experienced trauma or difficult experiences that make us feel bad about seeking help. We may have learned these views from our culture, from society, or even from friends and family. What many people don’t know is that therapy can be useful for a variety of challenges we might find in our lives.

Therapy is about creating change. Change can take many different forms. It can be a change in how you understand yourself. It can be a change in how you act in stressful situations or how you relate to others. It can be a change in the ways that you cope with difficult thoughts and emotions. There are so many ways that change takes place, and in therapy you have a chance to choose what that change will look like.

What are the steps towards getting therapy?

1. Decide that now is the time to seek support. Sometimes our life circumstances prevent us from being able to get the support we need, or we may have not felt ready to talk about change. If you’re reading this, you may have already completed this step!

2. Find a good fit. This includes looking for a therapist who works with the issues you want to address, takes your insurance, or has free and sliding scale options, and making sure they fit with your schedule. You can find therapists through sites such as Psychology Today and National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network directory. If you are employed, your employer may offer an Employee Assistance Program that can provide short term support as well as referrals for longer care.

3. Meet a clinician for the first time. Here the therapist learns more about you and your goals and collects some information on what you’re currently feeling and some important background information. It can be intimidating to share your experience for the first time, but know that the therapist is trained in providing nonjudgmental support. The therapist may decide that they are unable to provide the best support for you — in this case, they should give you referrals to someone who can help you.

Start to talk about change with your therapist. Depending on where you receive services, you may or may not be matched with the person who you first met for longer care. At this point you will develop treatment goals and begin to talk more in depth about change.

What does therapy for trauma look like?

The Anti-Violence Project at Center on Halsted specializes in trauma-informed therapy. This means that you can focus on the ways that experiences of violence have impacted your life.

Some people want to focus on managing the symptoms of their trauma, such as avoiding thinking about the past, strong changes in mood, thoughts of suicide or self-harm, flashbacks and/or nightmares, feelings of guilt or shame, and feeling on edge. Some want to work on developing healthy and positive relationships with others. And many want to explore all of these! You and your therapist will work together to determine what is the best fit for your current needs.

One misconception that many people have of therapy for trauma is that you have to talk in detail about your past experiences right away. While this can definitely be a pathway towards healing, our priority is increasing your sense of safety both in and out of session before discussing any difficult memories. Oftentimes this looks like learning and practicing coping skills that can allow you to revisit past experiences safely, then making the decision together about how to remember and heal from trauma.

Who will I speak to if I work with a therapist at AVP?

Our staff are licensed clinicians who are trained in evidence-based therapies for trauma. We are trained in a variety of approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Narrative Therapy, and Interpersonal Therapy allowing us to tailor counseling to meet each person’s unique needs and strengths. We are trained specifically in supporting LGBTQ+ individuals, families, partners, and communities.

What services does AVP provide?

The Anti-Violence Project can provide 12 free individual therapy sessions for survivors of violence. These sessions are focused on supporting you in healing from past trauma based on goals you and your therapist will create. You can also contact us to learn more about our therapy groups, case management, and advocacy in safety planning and responding to violence. The information for the AVP LGBTQ+ Violence Resource Line is below!

AVP LGBTQ+ Violence Resource Line:
773.871.CARE (2273) or
Staffed Monday — Friday from 9am-5pm

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store