The following Letter to the Editor was originally published in C-ville’s “Mailbag” page on Feb. 11, 2015

Trauma Counseling and Support Groups for Survivors of Sexual Assault at U.Va.’s Women’s Center

The Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at U.Va. has long offered counseling services for clients with a variety of counseling needs. A particular counseling service offered at the Center that is relevant to the needs expressed by sexual assault survivor Caitlin Mahoney in C-ville’s “Running the Gauntlet” article is direct, extended access for students to a counselor with experience serving survivors of sexual assault and other forms of trauma. The Women’s Center’s trauma counselor position was added in 2010 funded initially by a Virginia Department of Justice Recovery Act grant and alumni donors. In 2012, U.Va. began funding the position at the Center.

Students can contact the Center directly for counseling or can be referred there by other offices at U.Va such as the Dean of Students or Student Health’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). The Center collaborates with CAPS in a joint effort to best serve the various needs in the student population. CAPS serves evening/weekend crisis needs that the Women’s Center does not but services at the Women’s Center, unlike CAPS’ services, can extend as long as needed for a student experiencing trauma, and can be provided even when the client is not a currently enrolled student (such as during a leave of absence taken to focus on recovery). This spring a second trauma counselor is being added to the Women’s Center staff to ensure that students in need of this service can be seen by a counselor experienced in trauma.

As of the spring 2013 semester the Women’s Center also added a support group for student survivors of sexual assault, another service that came up in the C-ville’s interview with Mahoney. This confidential group provides a safe environment for students to support one another in the recovery process. Group members learn new ways of dealing with issues such as social pressures, relationships while healing from the assault, academic impacts and re-setting healthy boundaries. It also addresses grief concerns that sometimes arise after an assault. This group is being offered jointly for the first time this semester by the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center and CAPS.

Please call 434-282-2361 or visit www.womenscenter.virginia.edu for information about:  individual counseling, support groups, prevention and outreach efforts, or services to help U.Va. faculty and staff support students and colleagues who are survivors of sexual assault.