May 2, 2023

Mission Moment – Mental Health Services

About Our Therapy

At YWCA Spokane, our Mental Health Therapy program specializes in short-term, trauma processing forms of therapy. “There are different types of therapies for different types of situations,” explains Melva Moore, Director of Mental Health Services, “But what we do best is focus on helping people process their trauma.” Our team serves survivors of intimate partner domestic violence (IPDV) and their families. This means we work with women, men, non-binary folks, children (generally 6 years and older), and families.

Our unique position as a domestic violence agency means that our therapists have a complex understanding of how trauma affects our clients. We know that survivors need to be in a safe enough place along their healing journey before digging into the hard work of therapy. In some instances, engaging in therapy during the thick of an abusive relationship can actually make a survivor less safe. Our team helps connect people to the most appropriate resources for their situations.

Our Specialized Approach

Therapy is a type of medical specialty. Just like we have dermatologists or neurologists, our therapists are experts in a specific type of care. We’ve seen that the whole community benefits when folks have access to specialized service providers doing what they do best.

“Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a statistically common experience, but unfortunately it isn’t always easy to find therapists that understand its complexity,” says Brit Wilson, Associate Therapist. “We wanted to find a way to provide the best care possible with our small but mighty team, which meant narrowing our focus on how we specialized our skills as well as providing care to the population that needed those skills the most.”

In 2020, our therapy waitlist was gridlocked. We were providing more general therapy services to clients for an undefined amount of time and we were stuck. During the pandemic, our therapy team rumbled with what our strengths were and what need we were filling in the community. After much discussion, in 2021 our therapy program rebranded to its current form of trauma processing treatment. We saw a change in our program outcomes and it provided structure and direction to our work.

“We’ve seen really positive outcomes so far,” says Melva, “People will come to us now specifically for trauma processing for domestic violence.”

Impact of Therapy

Since we refined our approach, we are now able to serve more clients than before and fill a specific need in the community. “We don’t do traditional types of talk therapy,” explains Stephanie Nave, Licensed Therapist. “We utilize experiential therapies that work with how your brain stores traumatic information.”

We can see the impact of our therapy program through reduced levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depressive symptoms our clients experience. Before treatment, clients receive an initial assessment that provides a PTSD score. They retake the assessment at 12-week intervals. The hope is that after working with one of our therapists, a client will have a decrease in PTSD score, indicating that they are experiencing less symptoms.

“70% of our clients no longer have PTSD at the end of their treatment,” shares Melva.

At the end of treatment, most clients no longer have PTSD symptoms. This is an incredible success, especially considering the unique barriers that survivors of domestic violence face.

One of the main goals of our therapy program is to help a survivor figure out who they are now and who they want to become. Like our other programs, our therapy promotes empowerment and self-determination. We want to provide a safe space for survivors to envision their future, celebrate personal growth, and build confidence.

As the director, Melva shares that she is so proud of the dynamic team she leads. “Our therapists are kind, gentle, and compassionate with every case and every person that walks through our doors.” We believe that everyone deserves healing and safety.

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By: Jemma Riedel-Johnson

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