The Specialized Therapeutic Counselling Trauma Program
The Specialized Therapeutic Counselling Trauma Program at the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association (AWRCSASA) is trauma-informed and specific to an individual’s experience with sexualized violence. Services are provided for women, non-offending male survivors, trans, and gender non-binary ages 16+ years who have experienced sexual trauma, sexual assault or as childhood sexual abuse, and for young women aged 16-21, who are identified as ‘at risk’ and requiring woman-centred support.
Services are offered in Antigonish and through outreach to communities where needs are identified. Specific services include the following:
 Individual counselling services;
 Therapeutic group for young women (16-21) ‘at risk’;
 Therapeutic groups for adult women offered at various stages of their healing.
Individual Counselling Services
Each individual’s path to health includes understanding and making meaning of ways their specific experiences of trauma impact their sense of pain and expose blocks to achieving wellness. Together, the therapist and individual address the blocks so that individually identified goals are met through the therapeutic process. The trauma process work includes:
 Assessing for safety;
 Building on techniques for self-care, strengthening grounding skills, and identifying thoughts, emotions and physical sensation as separate experiences;
 Empowering individuals to change and sustain affect states.

The therapy involves the following three stages:

Stage I involves safety and stabilization, education, improving positive coping skills, emotion regulation, increasing feelings of safety in the body and in the external environment, identifying and dealing with triggers, mindfulness interventions.
Stage II reviews and/or discusses memories to help lessen the intensity of a person’s emotions, to revise their meanings for one’s life and identity, etc.; working through grief about unwanted or abusive experiences and their negative effects on one’s life; and mourning or addressing grief about good experiences that one did not have, but that all people deserve.
Stage III focuses on reconnecting with people, meaningful activities, and other aspects of life, such as sexual intimacy. Through this process, the trauma is no
longer the defining event in someone’s life. The trauma becomes integrated into their life story but is not the only story that defines them. The person also learns to set goals for the future, and takes the necessary steps towards empowerment and self-determined living.

Groups for Adult Women
Groups for adult women are offered in three stages as follows:

Stage I centres on normalizing the trauma response, with education on how trauma affects the mind and body.
Stage 2 is about being present in life and dealing with complex emotion as it shows up during the day. This emphasizes relational healing.
Stage 3 focuses on post-traumatic growth, identify, setting future goals, and moving forward.

Groups for Young Women At-Risk

Specialized groups are offered for young women identified ‘at risk’. Topics include: non-violent communication, anxiety and depression, and ending toxic relationships. The young women help negotiate the group structure, goals, boundaries and activities.

Collaborative Practice
The Specialized Therapeutic Counselling Trauma Program works collaboratively with mental health, addictions and other service providers to support each individual to access the service they need when they need it. It involves building an understanding of what specialized trauma counselling offers, how it is different, and when to refer. This involves education, ongoing meetings, conversations, and recognizing the unique position of the AWRCSASA in offering specialized trauma counselling.

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