Enhancing Sexual Assault Advocacy & Therapy through Diverse Strategies

By Executive Assistant to CEO/Donor Relations/Victim Advocate Counselor

In the heart of Collier County lies a beacon of hope and support for victims of trauma and violence. Project HELP works with dignity and compassion to ease the pain of those affected by rape, violence, crime or loss of a loved one due to a crime.

Project HELP is more than just an advocacy and therapy center; it’s a lifeline for individuals navigating the aftermath of a crisis. Behind the scenes, a dedicated team works tirelessly, not only to provide essential services, but also to continually evolve, educate, and empower both themselves and the community they serve—your community.

At the core of Project HELP’s mission is the commitment to ongoing education and training, a crucial aspect of this the Continual Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Training, which equips staff with the skills to effectively support survivors in managing emotions and developing healthy coping mechanisms. This weekly training ensures that every interaction is guided by evidence-based practices, fostering a therapeutic environment conducive to healing. Staying abreast of therapeutic techniques and advancements is paramount to Project HELP’s commitment to excellence.

The team engages in continuous learning opportunities, attending workshops, seminars, and conferences to integrate skills such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy. EMDR is a powerful tool in the arsenal of sexual assault advocacy. This evidence-based therapy helps victims process traumatic memories and associated emotions by facilitating bilateral stimulation, often through eye movements or taps. EMDR Therapy can empower survivors to reclaim control over their lives and move forward with resilience and strength.

Project HELP has embraced innovative strategies to address the diverse needs of survivors which include 24/7 Sexual Assault Crisis HELP line training. Helpline training is a cornerstone of sexual assault advocacy, providing survivors with immediate access to support and resources in times of crisis. Project HELP’s team, including volunteers, undergo rigorous training to effectively respond to helpline calls, offering empathetic listening, safety planning and information about available services. Other innovative strategies include the use of therapy dogs, support groups,

Shy Wolf Sanctuary Support, team building and self-care initiatives all of which play an integral role in healing and justice. The use of therapy dogs has increasingly become valued in the realm of trauma healing. Project HELP’s therapy dog—Cooper is a specifically trained canine that offers a unique form of support, providing comfort, companionship, and a sense of safety to survivors as they navigate their trauma.

The presence of Cooper can help reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and create a supportive environment where survivors feel empowered to share theirexperiences and access the plethora of resources available to them—resources such as Shy Wolf Sanctuary.

Project HELP has partnered with Shy Wolf Sanctuary in their Healing Hearts Program. The sanctuary provides a nurturing environment where survivors can engage with rescued wolves and wolfdogs, experiencing the profound healing power of interspecies connections.

Furthermore, support groups offer survivors the opportunity to connect with others who have experienced similar trauma, fostering a sense of community, validation and understanding. Through sharing stories, offering mutual support, and learning coping strategies together, survivors can find solace and empowerment in the company of peers.

Equally vital is team building and self-care. Project HELP fosters a strong sense of camaraderie, mutual respect and collaboration among staff; these activities enhance communication, problem solving skills and overall team dynamics. A cohesive and supportive team is better equipped to provide high quality service to survivors and navigate challenges.

Together, Project HELP is paving the way for a future where survivors can reclaim their voices, rebuild their lives and advocate a world free form sexual violence.

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