These are just a few of the dedicated people who have in the past or still volunteer their time and talent to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse with Together We Heal.
Susan “Sue” Eschrich
Susan is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She graduated from Illinois State with a Bachelors of Science in psychology in 1988 and a Masters of Science in psychology in 1993. Susan was commissioned as an officer in the Army upon her graduation in 1988. Susan served as a medical service corps officer in the Illinois, Ohio and Texas National Guard from 1988 – 1995 and remained in the inactive ready reserves until 2004 when she received an honorable discharge. Susan is an experienced LMHC with 10 years of clinical experience providing individual, family and group psychotherapy, clinical supervision and crisis management. She is a professional clinician proficient in mental health assessment and in accurately diagnosing patients using DSM-IV-TR and DSM-V criteria. She serves as a knowledgeable and resourceful advocate for patients. Susan is skilled in utilizing assessment tools to analyze presenting problems and formulate a clinical framework for providing efficacious treatment.
Susan has provided counseling services in various settings including a juvenile justice center, Pre-Trial Services, urban and rural outpatient mental health clinics, university student counseling centers, AIDS care center and a children’s/family clinic. She realizes that asking for help can be very difficult but also very beneficial. She treats each person as in a unique and respectful manner and honors the effort it takes to open up to and share one’s story with others.
Martha was born in a small town in Bolivia, and relocated to Brazil when she was five – quite traumatic , leaving family and language, but is appears that that move was a preparation for what was to come when they immigrated to the US – life is but change, and suffering stretches you and molds the heart…..
Though she cannot pinpoint the moment she decided to become a psychologist – she states she has not regretted it at all, even though moving to the US meant having to go back to school and start all over.
There is something in her that moves her toward people who are suffering, who have been hurt and lost their voice in the process. And if she can be even for a minute be a part in the process of re-gaining their soul, their heart, and building a path strewn with hope, than everything has been worthwhile.
Debe has spent years studying and mastering her innate ability to assist others in understanding the contours of their journey. She has conducted private and group sessions, seminars and workshops assisting clients with addiction, etc. in Los Angeles and the New York area since 2006. Combining a highly developed empathetic intuition and a deep level of nurturing and compassion with her in depth studies with Masters she has created a ‘client centered” approach to counseling that is both uniquely hers and highly effective in transforming one’s awareness to the options presented in life.
Debe combines her ability to assist others with ease, charm and commitment. A gifted photographer Debe has a wonderful ability to “see” things, often small or overlooked, that are in essential in creating “breakthrough” moments of clarity where the big picture manifests. She uses this skill in helping others see through complex situations that culminate in new possibilities for that person’s life experience. In doing this she is like a “life architect” who understand the blueprint that is unique to every person’s foundation. Debe studied psychology and film-making at American University in Washington, D.C. She is a Certified Empowerment Coach as well as a Certified Hypnotherapist. She is also a Reiki practitioner. She uses various modalities to assist each client based on their needs. As the mother of 3 grown children, Debe brings a wealth of knowledge from this experience as well.
Debe asserts that “we are our own teachers” and helps illuminate her clients inner and social awareness that benefit them in a number of ways in business, personal and spiritual pursuits.
Misty is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. After high school, she joined the Air Force and spent the next 21 years working logistics, traveling and raising a family. While in the service, Misty received an Associates Degree in Military Studies from the Community College of the Air Force, a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Business from Troy State University. After retirement, she obtained a Masters Degree in Counseling and Development from Auburn University. Misty has worked at several mental health community agencies throughout Alabama, Illinois and Florida. Misty is currently in private practice in the Tampa Bay area. She is the current President of the Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association and a counselor for the non-profit organization, Camaraderie Foundation.
Helya Farhangi, LMHC is the president and founder of the Center for Trauma Counseling, Inc., a non-profit organization in Palm Beach County, FL, dedicated to providing immediate and cost-efficient mental health counseling to those in need. Ms. Farhangi graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a Master’s of Science in Mental Health Counseling. Her experience includes working with children, adolescents, and adults impacted by trauma-related issues and/or everyday living challenges.
Lynn lives in Wisconsin with her 3 children and her supportive husband. Lynn has encountered struggles and challenges in her life but out of these challenges she uses her experience to empower and motivate others in her community. She grew up in an alcoholic, emotionally, physically and sexually abusive family environment. Growing up in a family where these abuses were all secrets and no one would talk about these challenges. She ran away from the military to escape her pain but what she encountered was repetitive abusive unhealthy patterns with others. She did not realize her challenges until she started her Master degree as a Counselor. She started her college career in 2000 and shortly after in 2004 decided to get out of the military and run away from those challenges. She did graduated with her Master degree in Counselor in 2010.
She has her Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Counselor- IN Training License from the State of Wisconsin. She has been Certified as a Clinical Trauma Specialist with IATP. She has also continued empowering others from her volunteer working within the community, working with female veterans, working with women empowering groups, working with survivors of sexual abuse and working on decreasing stigma within the mental health field. Recently she goes out into her community to tell her story about her recovery and how NAMI has helped her recover.
As a sexual survivor herself she really connects to others. She really understand the secrecy in the family, she understands how these secrets can follow you into the future if unresolved and how individuals might feel alone and without the support they need. If you just need the support and the encouragement to stop the repetitive unhealthy patterns or to figure out what your next step of recovery is for you, she is there for you.
Natalie is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern & has been working in the helping profession for over 6 years. She graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2011. Her main focus over the past 2 years has been working in private practice performing individual, group, family, and couples therapy. She prides herself on tailoring her approach to her clients individual needs.
As a counselor, she specializes in the assessment and treatment of a vast array of life’s difficulties –including, but not limited to, anxiety/stress, depression, addictions, post-traumatic stress, trauma and abuse, career and lifestyle adjustments such as loss of job or separation/divorce, relationship issues, social skills training, LGBTQ, existential crisis, and grief/bereavement. She helps her clients acquire the skills needed to become experts on themselves, while providing a comfortable, non-judgmental, and “user friendly” environment.
Rivka A. Edery, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., is a resident of Brooklyn, New York since 1994, and a native of Montreal, Canada. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Science and a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. She is a highly intuitive and sensitive licensed social worker and a first time author specializing in trauma recovery and spirituality. She has been active in the treatment and recovery field for more than sixteen years. Since 2009, she has been working as a clinical social worker assisting clients who are recovering from trauma-related disorders. She has treated numerous clients and has talked with hundreds of recovering addicts. As her career was advancing, Rivka wondered if the ancient spiritual principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous can be applied to the healing of trauma. One day, she was suddenly inspired with an idea that had a firm hold on her and has not let go since. It combined the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that saved her life, with life problems that are a result of surviving traumatic experiences. The result, “Trauma And Transformation: A 12-Step Guide”, is a unique approach for trauma survivors who are seeking a combined spiritual and clinical approach to their personal effects of surviving trauma.
Patricia Patty Wilson-Perkowski
Patricia-Ann, a Roman Catholic mother of four, married for 28 years, is a spiritual director working exclusively with mothers. Like so many women Patricia experienced sexual violence, living with an alcoholic parent, and being stalked by an unwanted admirer, but she would not let those experiences define her or limit her life. She sought healing and from that she was called to help others heal as she had. Patricia began her work, her ministry, as a social worker with Catholic Social Services working with mothers in crisis, she than felt called to expand her work to include a spiritual component because she felt many of the women with which she was working were not only facing emotional difficulties but spiritual ones as well. She is very sensitive to all spiritual practices and believes that each of us is called to understand God as is best for each person’s experience and culture.
Patricia has worked as director of Project Rachel, the post abortive healing ministry of the Catholic Church working directly with the women counseling, creating healing retreats and providing support group settings, she has also been a director of Religious Education creating retreats and other programs to help enhance children and adults spiritual lives. She has worked as a mothering mentor and parenting workshop creator and provider.
Pam is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Addictions Professional and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. She holds dual graduate degrees, Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services, and Master of Social Work, which allow her to bring together the in-depth individual concerns, balanced with the impact of systems, including family systems. She is highly skilled in multiple modalities to include Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Sand Tray Therapy, Accelerated Resolution Therapy, Play Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and 12-Step Programs. With over 25 years of experience, she has provided compassionate counseling services to a wide range of clientele including military members, high risk youth, those suffering from addiction and trauma victims. She is specialized in Child Sexual / Physical Abuse, working with child victims, siblings and non-offending caregivers, including healing of trauma adults suffered as children. Pam’s philosophy is that the client is the ‘expert’ on themselves and the job of a therapist is to provide the atmosphere, support and use of interventions that assist the client to go where they would like to go.
Wendy is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in Illinois. She has been interested in helping others as far back as she can remember. She has an MA in Speech and Language Pathology and ultimately returned to school and also obtained her MA in Clinical Psychology. Wendy’s experience includes working with specialized foster children, biological parents seeking to regain custody of their children, and developmentally disabled/delayed adults. Wendy works predominantly from a person-centered perspective and believes that empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence are essential aspects of the therapist-client relationship.
Elena is a Russian certified psychotherapist. She graduated from I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and became a general practitioner. She had been practicing for a while, gradually coming to realize that to taking medication is often not enough to cure a person. To cure the body one must first ensure the health of the soul, to put it in Socrates words. And so she became a psychotherapist, working in private practice individually and with groups. Ericksonian paradigm is the foundation of her approach and she also integrates process and body-oriented therapies in her practice. Elena learned a lot from her own therapy. She believes that every human being is a Universe with a plenty of stars, planets, black holes, resources. Therapy is a journey to understand that you already have all you need, and that you just need to be awakened, and that healing can happen with love and care.
Nicholas Stanco received his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University and a Master’s in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Nearly a decade after struggling to fit his dreams and his job, he decided to follow his own the advice and to pursue his Master’s in Counseling. In the area of Mental Health, Nick has found a place where his passion, talents, and goals intersect.
Nick has served in a number of professional capacities and organizations working within the New Jersey mental health sector. As a clinician, Nick is certified as a New Jersey Disaster Response Crisis Counselor, a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, and a Certified Sex Offender Treatment Professional. His journey in the mental health field has reinforced his commitment to the profession, as well as amplified his understanding of the many challenges of the human condition.
Instead of managing human resources, Nick sought to connect with human beings. Instead of celebrating profit margins, Nick desired applauding personal growth. Using cognitive behavioral and family systems therapies, Nick aligns theory, evidence, and practice to create client-centered and client-driven care strategies. Tangible change is the intention. Nick grasps that his patients seek practical solutions to real life problems and therefore uses empirically based methods to facilitate better, happier, healthier living.
Nick’s philosophy is that life is difficult… it is also earth-shatteringly beautiful at times. The first step in counseling is relationship. Humans cannot be protected from life; however, the goal is not to avoid life, but to embrace it and navigate it. In this meeting life, humans are meant to share both the joys and the burdens with others. As a mental health professional, Nick is privileged in offering a solid and fertile ground in which, together, healing is planted and nurtured. There is no greater honor than helping transform trauma into power, tragedy into resurrection – one step, one day, one person, at a time.
Misa Leonessa is a life coach and spiritual director specializing in trauma recovery, relationships, communication and spiritual growth. She has walked the path from surviving to thriving herself, and has a passion to help people heal from childhood abuse and those who are committed to pursuing greater relational, emotional and spiritual wholeness. She created Living from the Heart, a nine month course and group coaching experience to help people grow deep, authentic intimacy.
Misa is the producer and host of Beyond Abuse Radio where she shares the wisdom gleaned from her own journey of three decades of healing, as well as interviewing other survivors, helpers, and experts in trauma recovery. She facilitates workshops and conferences for individuals ready to break patterns of fear and self-protection to find their new inheritance of life, love and joy.
Misa has BA’s in Sociology and Non-Profit Administration from University of the Pacific, is a graduate from Life Skills International and Mercy Center’s Spiritual Director Institute in Burlingame, Ca. She a member of Spiritual Directors International. She volunteers for the Survivor’s Healing Center of Santa Cruz and is also a TEDX speaker trainer.
Sheila Weaver has been in the Social Services arena for 27 years, 14 of which have been in management roles. During this time she has presented at the following venues: National Staff Development Training on Community Collaboration and Team Building, a New York Statewide TANF Services Conference, New York Public Welfare Association on Title IV-E and Leadership Development. In addition she has worked as a Substance Abuse Counselor, volunteered on a Suicide Hotline, is a practitioner of USUI Reiki and practices Native American Spirituality. She is also a Survivor of Sexual Abuse and has presented on her experience at a Local Child Abuse Chapter. She has a BA in Psychology with a Minor in Human and Social Services in the area of Child Welfare.
Kathryn is an advocate and life coach for the victims/survivors/thrivers of gender violence and sexual assault for more than 2-3 decades. Besides being a survivor herself, she possesses a Criminal Justice Degree and Paralegal Certificate. She has dedicated her life to changing lives and has volunteered for 5 years as a CASA advocate, 3 years as a Guardian Ad Litem, 5 years as a Family Eldercare Advocate, 5 years a Victim’s Advocate in a police setting and Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, 8 years in crisis advocate hotlines, etc. In addition to her experience, she received the 2013 Woman of the Year Award for Economic Empowerment from the YWCA. Writing books has been her side passion while she volunteers as a radio show host for survivors to tell their own story in their own words. A life journey is one that is created not entirely based upon what has defined you in the past, but what you do to re-frame your past experiences such that you can move forward with some guidance and some tools to live your life feeling great worthiness and an active role model in today’s society. With some emotional support and guidance, Kathryn believes in coaching others to help heal towards a newer self.
Carolyn was born in Wiesbaden, Germany on a military base, and she spent the first 30 years of her life in Charlotte, North Carolina. She left home when she was 15 years old because of a difficult family life and lived on her own, after that. During her time in North Carolina, she did peer counseling at a community college, she worked for a 24 hour crisis line and counseled clients through the local “Women’s Center” and the Mental Heath Center. When she moved to Florida, she finished her Masters’ Degree in Social Work and became involved in working with children who had been abused and neglected. She has continued to learn more about children and adults that had been sexually abused and knew this was something she wanted to focus on in her professional life. She earned an LCSW and she opened a private practice, Personal Solutions, wanting to focus on helping clients that had been sexually abused. She has also worked with other organizations and provides all kinds of therapy for all kinds of clients, but she has always thought that working with the survivors of sexual abuse is her part in making the world a better place.
He takes great pleasure in helping others who are overcoming addiction or any difficult situation, as well as families and friends of the affected person. He has suffered from and dealt with major depression himself, so he knows how difficult it is to rebuild your life after getting depression under control. He was fortunate to work with a wonderful therapist who helped him focus on what he needed to do. He is committed to helping those who are ready to move forward and build a more satisfying future for themselves.