Group Therapy for Women Survivors of Trauma
Voices of Warriors
Healing in Community
When we experience trauma, our sense of self and the way we perceive the world around us becomes hijacked. Many women who have faced traumatic events feel a need to “keep the secret,” thus compounding their pain with isolation, dissociation, hypervigilance, and shame. Survivors of trauma can even feel that they themselves are “bad” and not deserving of a happy, healthy life.
Sharing a traumatic experience with others can restore a sense of connectedness, meaning, and understanding. The goal of group psychotherapy is to provide this kind of corrective emotional experience in which the dynamics of self-blaming, silencing, and disbelief of the victim are shared and then worked through.
There are currently two ongoing Voices of Warriors (VOW) groups: One group meets on Tuesday evenings from 6:00-7:20pm and the other group meets immediately after from 7:30-8:50. Each group is a weekly, 80-minute process-oriented psychotherapy group focused on the shared experiences of women who have experienced trauma. Group discussion will arise organically, but some of the following topics will likely be addressed:
- Revelation of each participant’s trauma experience(s)
- Description of how trauma has influenced members’ lives, including their intimate and sexual relationships and the relationship she has with her body
- Discussions of how shame, hypervigilance, dissociation, and PTSD affect survivors in daily life
- Development of a supportive community of other women who truly understand
Commitment & Cost
Our Team & Vision
Dawn Glover, MA, Psychology Intern
Dawn is a doctoral candidate at California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles. Her experience includes working with adults who are struggling with depression, anxiety, identity, loss and grief, and experiences of trauma. Dawn’s approach to therapy draws from attachment and object relations theories, dialectical behavior theory, and LGBTQ Affirmative therapy. She works with couples and individuals to understand how their early experiences impact their current relationships, emotions, behaviors, and thoughts, and to helps them utilize this understanding to enhance their quality of life and relationships with self and other.
Marcia Nimmer, LCSW, Psychology Intern
Marcia is a doctoral candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her research and writing has focussed upon finding meaning in the second half of life. She is drawn to helping individuals continue to grow and develop throughout the lifespan. Marcia sees post-midlife as time of great potential and wants to help individuals explore and find their full potential and whole selves.
Ilana Bar-Din Giannini, LCSW
VOW Groups Founder / Group Therapies Program Director
“After 20 years working as a professional writer, my decision to train as a psychotherapist came from a strong sense of personal optimism: I believe that people can write — and change — their own stories. With the right help and support, even traumatic stories can be reworked and lives reimagined. Social work underscored my sense that we heal best if gently moved from a place of isolation to a place of supportive understanding.” [more]
Shemetra James, MA, Psychology Intern
Shemetra is a doctoral candidate at Antioch University Santa Barbara. She previously trained at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Hillmont House-ANKA Behavioral Health, Tarzana Treatment Center, and Airport Marina Counseling Center. She recognizes your experiences are unique, has an empathetic approach, and is passionate about helping others embrace their own identities through self-empowerment. Shemetra follows Psychodynamic, Psychoanalytic, Object Relations, Cognitive-Behavioral theories, and Humanistic approaches to therapy. Her special area of interest is forgiveness practices to help overcome trauma.
Katherine Smith, MA, Psychology Intern
Katherine is a doctoral candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She believes therapy is more than just overcoming life’s challenges – it is an opportunity for you to explore and create a new relationship to your self. Katherine approaches therapy with kindness, compassion, and humor. She has worked with individuals and couples of diverse backgrounds, sexual orientations, mental health concerns, and integrates social justice and feminist perspectives in her approach to therapy.
Michele Gomes, Psy.D.
WILA Executive Director / Supervising Psychologist PSY23227
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to share the details of my trauma?
Sharing the details of your trauma(s) with others can restore a sense of connectedness, meaning, and understanding, however, disclosure should always be a voluntary act. VOW groups are intended for women who feel ready to begin to voluntarily disclose and work through their traumatic experiences. Our intake therapist will help you determine your readiness to share, and to hear, stories of sexual trauma. We may recommend a period of individual therapy before beginning a VOW group.
What if I already have an individual therapist?
Meeting weekly with an outside individual therapist meets the requirement to participate in the VOW group without signing up for individual therapy at WILA. We will require that a release is signed so that our VOW group therapists and your individual therapist can speak when necessary. This will be discussed with group members individually and will be handled thoughtfully to balance your privacy and responsible coordination of care.
Will my insurance pay for the VOW group?
In keeping with WILA’s mission, VOW is priced to be an affordable alternative for those who do not have adequate health insurance benefits and/or cannot afford expensive private treatment. VOW participants are expected to pay WILA directly at the time of service. If requested, your therapist will provide you with a superbill, an itemized form listing healthcare services rendered, which you must submit directly to your insurance provider to request reimbursement. This is a common way to have insurance to pay for out-of-network benefits. Approval for reimbursement as well as rates will depend on the terms of your insurance policy. We encourage you to call your insurance provider to better understand these terms before beginning the group.
Who will be facilitating the VOW group?
VOW groups are co-facilitated by pre-licensed therapists enrolled in WILA’s Psychology Internship and Postgraduate Fellowship. The co-facilitators are supervised by WILA’s Executive Director, Michele Gomes, Psy.D., with input from WILA’s highly trained and experienced faculty of clinical psychologists, psychoanalysts, and other mental health professionals.
Where does VOW take place?
VOW groups take place at our West Los Angeles location which provides a safe, comfortable, accessible, and confidential atmosphere. We are conveniently located at 11845 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 505W, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Ample street parking is available nearby.
I’m a clinician and would like to refer to VOW. Who do I contact?
We welcome referrals and ideas for potential collaborations. VOW is ideal as an adjunctive group therapy experience for women you are seeing in individual treatment. Participation in group therapy can reduce isolation and increase relatedness by bringing together individuals struggling with similar issues. We offer a FREE telephone consultation with you and a FREE in-person consultation with your client. Call (424) 371-5191 x429 and a VOW group leader will call you back to discuss the goodness of fit of our program for your client.
What is WILA’s mission?
The mission of Wright Institute Los Angeles (WILA) is to keep high quality, long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy available and affordable. WILA is an affordable alternative for those without adequate health insurance benefits or the ability to pay for expensive private treatment. We remain one of the very few settings in Los Angeles where no limits are placed on treatment length or session frequency. Our aim is to help the individuals, couples, and families we serve lead richer, deeper, more fulfilling lives.