New therapy group to focus on trauma survivors

Bert Nash therapist Heather Davis will lead the new trauma group.

Bert Nash therapist Heather Davis will lead the new trauma group. by Jeff Burkhead

As a therapist, Heather Davis hears a lot of different stories, and they’re all unique. But there’s a common theme: Trauma.

“Trauma is so common,” said Davis, an Adult Services therapist at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center. “It’s rare to have someone come in who doesn’t have some degree of trauma.”

Davis described trauma as any traumatic incident, from a car accident to being a victim of a violent act.

“Trauma impacts all of us,” she said. “There are different levels of trauma, but trauma is trauma.”

Davis, who has a long history of working with individuals of all ages who have experienced trauma, is starting a new trauma support group at the Center.

“There’s a need for it,” she said. “We’ve had trauma groups before, but we didn’t currently have one. We thought this was a good opportunity to start one.”

The plan is for the group to start meeting the first week of April. To start, the group will be for women only, but Davis hopes to start a men’s trauma group at some point, and to have the two groups run concurrently. The trauma group will consist of 12 sessions. The ideal group size will consist of eight people, who will be referred by their primary therapist.

Trauma is something that can often get in the way of treatment for those with mental illness, said Amy Warren, Adult Services director at Bert Nash.

“Individuals with mental health issues have a higher incidence of trauma than the general population. Ignoring trauma can delay recovery and if trauma goes unaddressed, individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders are more likely to have poor physical health outcomes,” Warren said. “We are happy to have Heather on staff to get this needed treatment started and to bring more attention to this issue.”

One thing Davis wants to make clear about the group is the focus will be on the present and the future, not the past.

“This will not be a process group, meaning it’s not the kind of group where people will come and talk about their traumatic experiences. That is not what this will be,” she said. “The focus will be on coping strategies that focus on empowerment, safety, including emotional safety, and regaining control of one’s life and not allowing the trauma to define them.”

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