The Center for Families and Relationships (CFAR), a nonprofit in Philadelphia recently received a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to bring trauma therapy for gun violence to rec centers in the city.
Jordan Brogan, the chief executive officer at CFAR, said the organization submitted a grant request in response to the Violence Intervention and Prevention RFP released in Fall 2022. The funding supports grants and technical assistance to address community violence throughout the Commonwealth, with a focus on preventing and intervening with gun and group-related violence.
“The $999,000 in funding from the PCCD allows CFAR to significantly expand our Together Through Trauma program, which was developed to address the mental health crisis that has resulted from the high levels of gun and street violence in Philadelphia,” said Brogan. “Together Through Trauma programming provides evidence-based trauma counseling and trauma education through community workshops and support groups on the impacts of trauma and how to cope after exposure to traumatic events.”
The programming will take place at recreation centers located in areas identified as being heavily impacted by gun and street violence. Brogan said CFAR will engage children, teens, adults, families and staff with the goal of decreasing the incidence of PTSD symptoms to those directly or indirectly impacted by gun violence and working to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma.
Trauma Therapy Details
Brogan said the funding will mostly go toward staffing to implement the program. Specifically, six recreation centers were identified to receive monthly trauma workshops and support groups.
Topics can be chosen by recreation leadership from a menu of workshops including:
- Understanding Trauma
- How Trauma Impacts Families and Relationships
- How to Deal with the Loss of a Loved One Due to Gun Violence
- Managing Anxiety After a Traumatic Event
- Conflict Resolution
“The goal is to provide trauma education as well as create a safe environment for community members to support one another,” said Brogan.
Therapists will also provide evidenced-based trauma services to those directly impacted by gun violence in person or through telehealth, making appropriate referrals as needed. Therapists hope to provide four open access hours at each recreation center per week. They will have the capacity to see an average of 30 clients per week as well.
“Funding is also going toward training/support to recreation staff and community partner staff located within the neighborhoods we are located,” said Brogan. “Trainings will focus on education around secondary traumatic stress, providing support to staff members working in these vulnerable communities to help reduce burnout.”
Weekly, one-hour mental health education in twelve summer camps across two years will also be provided. Brogan said there is a program director in place who will manage all staff, assure therapy delivery is going well and focuses on key partnerships.CFAR is also hiring two outreach specialists, an administrative assistant and two part-time camp consultants. Outreach specialists will focus on keeping the surrounding communities informed and engaged, the administrative assistant will perform admin support the program needs, and camp consultants will be trauma therapists who deliver mental health education workshops at the Parks and Rec summer camps.
Hopes and Goals
Brogan said the CFAR teaches that talking about trauma and understanding how it impacts you, are the first steps in regaining control and minimizing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The more individuals talk about their trauma, the more likely it is that they will help break the cycle of intergenerational trauma.
“The goal of these mental health services is not only to reduce symptoms of PTSD, but to help families feel open to talk about their trauma in healthy ways, sharing their experience and feelings with family members to help break that cycle of intergeneration trauma,” said Brogan. “In today’s world, our community is too desensitized to violence because it feels normal. It’s happening around us every day.”
In the short-term, CFAR is working toward building strong and collaborative relationships with Philadelphia Parks and Rec, staff and organizations around each rec center, and community members. For the long-term, Brogan said CFAR anticipates the new programming will foster a culture of healing and increase overall understanding of the importance of mental health.
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