Speaking Up to Transform Trauma

Trauma flows from any life event perceived as too difficult to process. It can manifest emotionally as depression or anxiety, or physically as injury or illness. Regardless, trauma plays a powerful role in our mental health, often silencing true information and narrating our reality with a negative or dysfunctional voice:

“I’m not good enough. I’m a failure. This is too much for me. I can’t stand it anymore.”

That’s where we come in. “It stops here,” said Marlen Walker, a long-time Registered Psychologist with the YWCA. The YWCA’s Counselling Services are unique: clients can come as often as they need, for as long as they need, on an affordable sliding fee scale to ensure cost isn’t a barrier.

While our services are broad and open to anyone, we are regarded as a centre of best practices on trauma-informed counselling. Our clients are typically women who are suffering from trauma as a result of violence and in 2018, this trend not only continued — it increased.

Trauma and complex trauma joined the list of the top 10 most common issues among new clients, alongside family violence. New clients seeking support for experience with family violence also increased by 31% in 2018.

In response, we hired an additional psychologist in 2018 with the support of community funders, like the Edmonton Community Foundation and Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund. The new psychologist can also supervise graduate students completing their practicums, resulting in an overall 60% increase in capacity, or an additional 240 people who need help reclaiming their voice.

“We empower them by taking away that underlying feeling of fear or inadequacy,” said Marlen. “It takes a long time to heal a lifetime of trauma but here, there’s no judgement, and there’s no rush. We’re here to hold space for them.”

2018 Service Numbers at a Glance:

  • 3515 appointments, 99% of which were fully or partially subsidized
    (typical income range $11,000 – $30,000)
  • 366 clients served
    (92% adult / 8% Youth ; 88% Female / 10% Male / 2% Transgender)

Adult Outcomes:

  • 83% had a better understanding of the issues they face
  • 80% saw positive changes in their lives
  • 80% had a positive counselling experience

Children & Youth Outcomes:

  • 100% felt their counsellor listened and understood their problems and concerns
  • 100% built a trusting relationship with their counsellor
  • 94% felt accepted, supported and safe