Restoring Hope After Trauma

Together, we fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community, and with your help, we’re changing lives for the better. These stories offer a glimpse into the positive impact we can have when we LIVE UNITED.

The following story was submitted by our funded partner COMPASS.


As clinicians and advocates, it is critical for us to meet our clients wherever they are in their journey, with the hope that something beautiful can shine from the darkness that they may be feeling. We want to empower our clients to find their courage and their voice in order to move from a victim to not only a survivor, but a thriver. Sometimes, that job can be as challenging for us as it is for our clients, because we may not see forward movement in our clients as quickly as we may anticipate.

I began providing counseling services for a client in November. This client was previously involved with another clinician and case management services at COMPASS and was beginning to explore her own experiences with childhood sexual abuse and trauma. This client was very guarded and hesitant to engage in services. She became offended at any suggestions that I would make, and would call into question any authority that I had as a professional. For several months, she would dance a dance of one step forward and three steps backward. Her personal hygiene had become an issue, self-care was non-existent, and she was angry at the world. She began self-sabotaging friendships and relationships, and was on the verge of becoming homeless. She found temporary housing, but seemed to have no motivation to live on her own, despite months of regular searching with the case worker for appropriate housing and the use of motivational interviewing in order for her to feel as if she could successfully manage on her own. I met weekly with the case manager in order to collaborate on the best care for her, and we seemed to be at an impasse on where to go with regard to treatment for this client.

It wasn’t until I was able to identify that the client’s biggest motivator in her life was her pet that we began to see real growth in the client. Though the client’s pet is not a true “therapy pet,” we were able to bypass the rules a little for a period of time in order to allow for the client to bring her pet to a few therapy appointments with her. I found that the client was able to engage more actively in counseling and openly express her feelings about her past trauma. The client recently moved into an apartment of her own, and told me that this has restored her hope and her faith in herself. She said, “I wish I would have done this years ago!” She has begun setting boundaries in her relationships and has developed positive friendships, including friendships that she has made inside of the support groups here at COMPASS. When the client attended her recent counseling session, without her pet, she told me that she has even begun to take her medication regularly, something that she felt unable to do for herself just a few short months ago.

As a clinician, success is sometimes measured in millimeters instead of inches. Though this client’s success may seem small to some, it is still miles from where she started, and I am looking forward to seeing where her journey takes her!


COMPASS provides crisis intervention, education, outreach and therapy services to all survivors of rape and sexual abuse – women, children, men – and their loved ones.

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