Aug 9, 2021 Healing From Trauma

When something very bad happens to a person—a violent attack, domestic abuse, sexual assault, a hate crime—the event passes. The feelings of stress, helplessness and anxiety often don’t.

Many trauma victims don’t know where to turn for help. “When someone has been through significant trauma, in many cases they lose the ability to go through the steps it takes to get traditional counseling,” explains Marli Gelfand, MA, LPC, APS, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Services at Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC). “Finding a provider, calling for an appointment, dealing with insurance or charity care— it can feel overwhelming.”

The Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) at JCMC is designed to remove these obstacles. It offers a confidential, free program that includes on-call crisis intervention, individual and group counseling, clinical case management and assistance in linking to community resources.

Funded through the federal Victims of Crime Act, the TRC follows the proven and data-based Trauma Recovery Center model created by the University of California San Francisco. It is one of four TRCs recently established for underserved populations in New Jersey and the only one of its kind in Hudson County.

“Our communities are seeing high levels of violence, which have a direct correlation with the socioeconomic struggle many residents are facing— housing insecurity, food insecurity, the inability to find a job above minimum wage,” says Gelfand.

Safety First

TRC’s doors opened in December 2020. The program gets referrals from police stations, courts, emergency departments, domestic violence shelters, schools and community groups, but individuals who need help are also welcome to reach out to the TRC on their own.

“Our treatment has different stages,” Gelfand explains. “The first is the establishment of safety and trust. We work to stabilize whatever is causing the biggest point of distress for an individual in the wake of trauma—for example, the loss of a home or the inability to pay bills—by connecting the person with community resources.”

When immediate needs have been met, the trauma survivor can truly begin to grieve the loss related to the trauma.

“That’s when therapy starts to happen,” says Gelfand. “We work to create a connection between trauma survivors and their communities by increasing their engagement. Patients begin to ‘fill the hole’ in their lives with tangible activities and by creating meaningful relationships within the community.”

The goal, says Gelfand, is for trauma survivors to learn that they can be successful and stand on their own.

“People will learn that trauma does not have to define them,” she says. “It’s something that happened to them. But it’s not who they are.”

Who Is Eligible for Assistance at the Trauma Recovery Center?

  • Hudson County resident.
  • Ages 5 and up.
  • Survivor of a violent crime that occurred in the last five years.
  • Must not have any other mental health services at the time of enrollment.

The Trauma Recovery Center is located on the first floor of Jersey City Medical Center at Greenville, 1825 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. To learn more or to make an appointment, contact Deborah Almonte, LCSW, Program Coordinator, at 201-839-2644.