Psychosocial Support

Research shows that gender-based violence often results in significant mental health issues and distress for victims. Psychological consequences can include: clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fear, uncontrollable emotions, feelings of helplessness, guilt and shame, emotional numbing and suicidal thoughts or behaviours. If left untreated, the compounded after-effects of trauma of this nature can be long-lasting and debilitating.

With our integrated approach, LvA goes beyond addressing our clients’ legal needs to ensure that their psychological, emotional and mental needs are met too. Through ongoing counselling, therapy, court preparation and debriefing, LvA’s therapists support our clients’ healing processes and seek to minimize the secondary trauma experienced during the criminal justice process. LvA also aims to strengthen our clients’ external support systems through education on trauma and supportive tools and techniques.

Our Impact

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Our Approach

Therapy & Counselling

Through trauma counselling, narrative therapy and drama therapy, LvA’s therapists support our clients’ emotional, psychological and mental healing journeys. Depending on the unique needs of each client, a therapist will provide ongoing counselling or therapy sessions on an individual basis or in a group setting. 

LvA also partners with the Drama for Life Programme at the University of Witwatersrand and hosts Masters’ students each semester. LvA has found drama therapeutic techniques to be extremely effective when working with victims of trauma as drama therapy allows an individual to engage in symbolic play for the purpose of restoring interpersonal trust and rebuilding healthy self-esteem. This, in turn, facilitates the internalisation of safety that allows clients to build emotional capacity and resilience.

Court Preparation & Debriefing

The often-adversarial courtroom environment can result in a client experiencing severe stress, anxiety and even further trauma in connection with a criminal trial. Under LvA’s integrated services model, therapists work alongside attorneys to prepare clients emotionally before each trial hearing and to facilitate debriefing afterwards. 

Before each hearing, the therapist will explore the fears, anxiety or inner conflict the client may be experiencing and give practical information about how to cope with going to court. This may include topics like the roles of the various state actors, the client’s rights at court and breathing techniques. Then, after each hearing, the therapist will spend time with the client reflecting on the experience and unpacking the feelings that have emerged.

Caregivers Workshop: Providing Support to Children who have Experienced Trauma

When engaging with the caregivers of children who have experienced sexual violence, LvA observed several commonalities; namely, feelings of guilt, shame, fear and their personal inadequacies around their ability to support their child. 

As part of LvA’s holistic approach, LvA facilitates psychoeducational workshops for caregivers and other family members. Through these workshops, LvA seeks to educate caregivers on trauma and the impact of trauma on their child, as well as to equip them with practical skills to support their child.

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