One of the benefits of our program at Alabaster Jar Project is that we provide many forms of therapy to aid in our clients' rehabilitation. Psychotherapy is offered through case management outsourced to a partnering social services provider. We also have a support group that meets once a week where North SD County survivors discuss rehabilitation techniques and tools and can enjoy a community of sister survivors and thrivers.
But for someone who is fresh out of the life of sexual exploitation, an extra step may be required. Survivors often suffer from nightmares, panic attacks, flashbacks, and other trauma symptoms that are debilitating to completing their daily tasks. Imagine being trapped in a life where you have no guaranteed safe space to rest your head, no independence, and are subjected to violence and the constant threat of danger for years at a time. Then, throw yourself back into the world and workforce, where you are expected to complete daily tasks as if this has been the norm for the last several years. Sound like a challenge? It’s definitely not easy.
One form of trauma therapy that’s worth exploration is EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This trauma therapy offers a solution to survivors suffering from severe trauma and disturbing memories that have negative effects on their daily life and abilities to function. With a certified clinical therapist, patients are guided through disturbing internal memories while simultaneously focusing on an external source. The source may be a visual stimulant (a moving object) or a physical stimulant (vibrations moving from the left palm to the right palm) that engages both the left and right side of the brain at different times, as if rewiring the memories as they’re being recalled by the patient. Because of the external stimulant, the memories recalled are ideally not internalized and are less painful to remember. EMDR has a high success rate for those suffering from PTSD and usually takes about twelve one-hour sessions to complete.
“EMDR changed my life,” Sabrina*, a graduate of Alabaster Jar Project, states. “When (my therapist) guided me through my memories, it was like I was reading my past as if it was a storybook. I didn’t feel like I was reliving my trauma, which I used to feel like.” EMDR may not make traumatic memories disappear altogether, but can help deintensify the nature of the memories so that the survivor can cope with trauma and function with more ease in daily tasks, without being interrupted by disturbing flashbacks.
In addition to providing a residential housing program and emergency services, Alabaster Jar Project believes that long term success in survivors lives is achieved by making an array of support services available to all clients. This involves incorporating alternative therapies into their healing and partnering with social service providers to ensure that their emotional and mental needs are met. This way we can fulfill our mission to restore, rehabilitate, and empower all of our survivor sisters.