The Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma offers free specialized children's counseling for children ages 5 and up.
Counseling is offered to children who have been exposed to trauma including domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking. In addition, shelter officials said even children who have not been victimized themselves can benefit for counseling.
"Many children have not been abused themselves but have witnessed abuse which is very traumatic for children and requires a safe place for them to explore their feelings of fear, anger, and confusion," said Shelly Mason, FSSO Executive Director. "The family shelter offers both individual counseling sessions as well as a weekly children's support group on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m."
Signs that may indicate a child is experiencing Post Traumatic Stress include:
n A sudden shift in personality
n Displaying in-appropriate behaviors for their age such as an older child reverting back to throwing temper tantrums or a younger child starting to show signs of maturity well beyond their years
n The child suddenly starts to have a noticeable increased display of affection.
Penny Elliott, FSSO children's counselor said, "When I am seeing a child, I also offer individual sessions with the parent and joint sessions with the parent and child so parents are involved in every step of the process and are informed of their child's progress. Participation from the parent is tremendously important in treatment."
What do parents gain by participating in the sessions?
"Parents will learn techniques to improve communication with their children, discuss their own thoughts and feelings about their child's traumatic experience, and learn new techniques of parenting a child who has suffered trauma," Elliott said.
Parents who would like to make an appointment for their child to receive
individualized counseling or to attend one of the group sessions, Family Shelter's administrative office at (580) 226-3750 or go the the administrative offices at 117 B St. SW, located directly right behind the post office. To enroll a child in a group session, a parent must contact the shelter "for a visit" prior to the first group session attended.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and need immediate assistance contact the 24-hour Crisis Line at (580) 226-6424.
All services provided by the Family Shelter are free.