Elder Abuse Psychotherapy Services Available At Wise & Healthy Aging

Saturday, 15 Sep 2012, 11:00:00 PM

Mirror Staff

WISE & Healthy Aging, the result of a 2007 merger of WISE Senior Services and Center for Healthy Aging, has more than 70 years of combined service to older adults.

The nonprofit social services organization is an established leader in advocating for the independence, dignity and quality of life of older adults, and in providing innovative services – like the “Psychotherapy for Survivors of Elder Abuse” project begun in summer 2011.

The project was borne out of a concern that elder abuse survivors are seldom provided therapeutic services after becoming victims of abuse or neglect.

The effects of trauma associated with elder abuse can be devastating, yet psychotherapy remains a largely unavailable service to elders who are victims of abuse.

Traditionally, referrals for therapeutic services are provided only to seniors with persistent mental illness. WISE & Healthy Aging is changing this paradigm through the “Psychotherapy for Survivors of Elder Abuse” project, made possible by a grant from the Archstone Foundation. The project provides vital therapeutic services to elder abuse survivors age 65 and over, and seeks to change how elder abuse victims are viewed by the mental health community.

Education and outreach to mental health providers and other senior service referral agencies (such as the Los Angeles County’s Adult Protective Services, law enforcement officials, the Los Angeles Elder Abuse Forensic Center and WISE & Healthy Aging’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program) are essential components of the project. However, the major objectives focus on elder abuse survivors.

“Through individual therapy sessions, survivors of abuse are aided in processing feelings and trauma associated with victimization,” said Jennifer Levine, Psy.D., Clinical Director of Mental Health Services at WISE & Healthy Aging.

Reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); and providing tools to protect themselves from re-victimization are fundamental to the project.

For clients’ convenience, clinic and field based therapeutic services are made available to victims of any type of elder abuse – whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, neglect, or self- neglect.

And individual therapeutic sessions are provided anywhere within the City or County of Los Angeles, including in the client’s home in the community, in a nursing home, assisted living facility, place of their choosing (church, park, senior center), or at WISE & Healthy Aging’s mental health clinic in Santa Monica.

As a contracted service provider of the LA County Department of Mental Health for over 20 years, WISE & Healthy Aging’s program has an established model from which to systematically provide therapeutic services to elder abuse survivors.

The clinic offers individual and group therapy to elders who are persistently ill and manages a Field Capable Clinical Serviced (FCCS) program which provides field-based therapy to elders who are resistant to seeking treatment in a clinical setting.

The program also provides RN case management, psychiatric medication management, and utilizes third and fourth year psychology interns and post-doctoral fellows to administer therapeutic services.

For more information on the programs and services at WISE & Healthy Aging, including the “Psychotherapy for Survivors of Elder Abuse” project, please call 310.394.9871 or visit www.wiseandhealthyaging.org.

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