Catholic Charities provides trauma program
By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
Offering counseling for the people of the Diocese of Sioux City is one of the main services of Catholic Charities.
There are five Catholic Charities locations in the diocese with the main office being in Sioux City.
“Life is difficult at times, especially now with a difficult economy and people are working through some really tough things in their lives. It is important to have a place to go to talk those things through,” said Susan Rohden, clinical supervisor in the Fort Dodge office. “Sometimes talking to our friends just isn’t enough. Sometimes we need to move beyond that and work things through.”
She said it is important that Catholic Charities can offer that support. They focus on families and family needs. Anyone can refer themselves to therapy services and can call one of the offices to make an appointment.
“We do a lot of general treatment work for families and individuals,” said Rohden.
“We treat any individual who has been through a trauma,” said Rohden. “Trauma can be anything from something very serious like assault, sexual or physical abuse, a domestic assault or a loss in your life depending on what that loss is like and some of the complexities around that. Trauma can be anything related to that person.”
Along with the treatment program, she said, both the Sioux City and Fort Dodge offices have therapists who are trained in TFCBT – trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy. This is an evidence-based program for children ages 6 to 18.
“The characteristics of the program are things that we do with all of our trauma clients,” said Rohden.
The clients are usually seen weekly for as long as they need to be seen. It depends on the client’s needs.
“Our services are very much focused on what that individual needs to achieve their healing,” said the clinical supervisor. “Whether the client is a child or adult, their needs will vary. The program focuses on helping them identify the trauma or the underlying issue that is causing problems.”
The therapist will talk through the trauma or issue with the client until they can come to some sense of resolution and peace with whatever occurred in their life.
“What often happens with a trauma is that our internal fight, flight or freeze reactions are triggered,” said Rohden. “At the time, it might be functional that we fight, flight or freeze, but later in our life, if we are triggered by a memory of that trauma by a smell or by someone who looks like the person involved in that situation, it can bring back those reactions. It is like our warning bells are going off.”
She added that the child or adult might not know why this is happening. They might have dealt with the problem and moved on, but not really. Then they have to go back and talk it through.
“For a child, they may not even know what those warning signs are or why they are struggling,” said Rohden. “What we often see is what we interpret as naughty behavior, defiant behavior, having trouble concentrating or having difficulty in school. When we really assess what is going on, there may be an issue that could have been recent that we missed or it could have been further back that they never really talked about or addressed.”
She stressed that if the person can process the problems when they happen, it can save them difficulties later.
“We know that the affects of trauma that is untreated, especially things like sexual abuse and domestic violence, can be very significant and expensive for our society and for families,” said Rohden. “It is valid to seek help and to process it through so you can move forward.”
“It depends on the person, but post traumatic stress disorder is only diagnosed if there has been a traumatic incident where the person has felt threatened or have a serious emotional response to that traumatic incident,” said Rohden. “What might be traumatic for one person might not be traumatic for another person. It is very individual.”
Each person has a different history, different resiliency, so they react differently, she said.
“That diagnosis has come from our war veterans in years past. We have been able to accurately apply it to individuals who have trauma in life that is not related to war,” said Rohden. “More recently with veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan we do serve those men or women and their families. Often times PTSD is one of the struggles that they are coping with.”
There are Iowa Air National Guard units in the Fort Dodge and Sioux City areas. There is also a unit in the Boone area that utilizes the services.
“We find it is important to be there to support our troops coming back home,” said the clinical supervisor. “We make sure that they are connected in a way that they need to be connected in their military system. We are another support for them to work through issues with reacclimating into their home environment, the potential of going back and all the emotional issues that come with that.”
She added that Catholic Charities also serves the families of the troops because when one family member is deployed, it affects everyone in their house.
Catholic Charities offers many programs including family counseling, individual counseling, marital counseling, child/parent counseling, play therapy, maternity services, option counseling, adoption services, mediation services, Project Rachel, emergency aid assistance and referral, social concerns/advocacy and more.
To find out more about Catholic Charities and what is offered in individual counties, visit the diocesan website at www. scdiocese.org. Under the ministries tab click on Catholic Charities. The main office is located in Sioux City and there are branch offices in Carroll, Fort Dodge, Spencer and Storm Lake.
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