The Sanar Wellness Institute offers long-term mindfulness-based therapeutic support and programming that allow survivors to reduce symptoms and process trauma.  From the initial intake, the survivor has an opportunity to participate in the creation of a tailored and individualized treatment plan in collaboration with the Sanar staff and the Clinical Advisory team. This diverse range of trauma-informed therapeutic modalities is offered for individuals to truly heal.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

The Sanar Wellness Institute is a trauma-informed environment that utilizes trauma-specific interventions to address the impact of trauma on survivors of gender-based violence. The National Center for Trauma-Informed Care (NCTIC) under Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), describes a trauma-informed organization as the following: 

1.       Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery;

2.       Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system;

3.       Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and

4.       Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.

All services in Sanar’s Resiliency Initiative are focused in trauma-resolution to move survivors beyond crisis-mode in order to focus on long-term recovery for a life that is informed and thoughtful.

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)is an integrative, psychotherapy treatment utilized as a therapeutic mechanism to help survivors overcome symptoms and emotional distress resulting from traumatic life experiences. EMDR was first developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in 1987 and has been researched and refined in several studies.

EMDR therapy presumes that psychological trauma can be healed for the mind in the same way that physical trauma can be healed for the body; by removing blockages that interfere with the natural healing processes.

At Sanar, after establishing rapport as well as a strong, therapeutic bond, the eight-phase, standard EMDR treatment protocols are introduced and adapted to the unique needs and characteristics of the survivor.

With successful EMDR therapy, survivors make core-level, transformative changes that affect them on a deeper and more profound level.  The meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional and intelligence level, thus allowing the resolution of the survivor’s psychological trauma. Their traumatic wounds heal and survivors feel empowered in releasing feelings of guilt and responsibility for the abuse or trauma that they experienced. 

Holistic Support Groups

All Sanar groups that take place in our calming meditation and yoga studio incorporate holistic, therapeutic supports that include the use of mindfulness techniques, aromatherapy, or any combination of expressive arts modalities including visual arts, collage, jewelry-making, music creation, movement, and yoga. When all senses are stimulated, participants may feel comfortable sharing and expressing themselves while doing the activity. This group setting can feel safe and validating for survivors.  Essentially, these groups can be considered mindfulness, artistic-fusion support groups.

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)  

Animal assisted therapy is a therapeutic, goal-directed intervention practiced by trained professionals with specific, individualized therapy goals created for the survivor. Goals of AAT include: reaching the survivor in order to understand him or her, leading the survivor to emotional expression and insight, bringing about change, and improving the survivor’s quality of life. The influence of the presence of an animal as a therapy tool is used to meet these goals.

AAT is based on emotional connection and relationship: therapist/survivor, therapist/animal and survivor/animal. Interaction with the animal is only part of the therapy process in AAT. The main component is the accompaniment and guidance of the survivor by the therapist, with mediation by the therapist between the survivor and the animal, between the child and his/her own inner processes, leading to reflection, awareness and insight. Oftentimes, because of the presence of the animal, AAT is considered as a part of group therapy. The presence of the animal is the tool, and the survivor is the focus. 

There are a number of unique advantages that emerge from AAT that help in reaching various therapy goals including:

  • Enabling connection- The animal may aid in the survivor-therapist connection, a requirement necessary for the therapy process to occur.
  • Normalcy, safety and friendliness of the therapy setting- Research has shown that the presence of an animal in the room encourages a positive perception of the situation as being one that is friendly and safe; survivors may feel less inhibited and more comfortable bringing up difficult issues in an environment that displays acts of nurturing
  • Acceptance- The survivor will feel more emotionally open in front of an animal that is not capable of passing judgment or criticism. In addition, the survivor perceives that the animal handler loves and nurtures the animal and cares for it with all of its characteristics
  • Self-Esteem- The survivor feels not only accepted and trusted by the animal, but also important to the animal
  • Empathy- In cases in which the survivor struggles with healthy human interaction, a pet can encourage empathy. If the survivor witnesses the empathy shown to the animal by the therapist, then this provides an opportunity for modeling.
  • Touch- Holding an animal not only stimulates the touch sensory in the brain, which promotes psychological well-being, but also takes away the feeling of social alienation by being able to touch another living being.

Sanar currently utilizes AAT through the services of Rhea, a four-pound Chiweenie therapy dog, belonging to Chief Executive Director, Kate Keisel. Rhea sits in sessions with survivors. All of the above-mentioned qualities have been reported from survivors based on Rhea’s presence in the AAT sessions. 

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence-based treatment approach for children, adolescents, and their caregivers with a strong evidence base in helping them to overcome trauma-related experiences. As an intervention, TF-CBT was designed to reduce emotional and behavioral responses following traumatic events including: child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and traumatic loss. TF-CBT draws from well-established cognitive-behavioral therapy that was developed in the 1960s by Dr. Aaron Beck.

TF-CBT is based on the assumption that the interpretation of traumatic eventsare responsible for certain emotional responses. By helping children become aware of disturbing thoughts and unhelpful perceptions, effective TF-CBT allows them to: 1. process the traumatic memories, 2. overcome problematic thoughts and behaviors with appropriate emotional responses and finally 3. develop effective coping and interpersonal skills.

Sanar offers individual TF-CBT sessions as a therapeutic intervention to adolescent survivors of gender-based violence who are coping with negative traumatic responses and are having difficulty functioning due to the impactful effects of their victimization.