The University of Michigan has launched a new Survivor Care Team that combines advocacy with therapy to better address the specific needs of students who are survivors of sexual misconduct.
The new collaboration combines the advocacy of the U-M Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and the therapy offered through U-M’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
The Survivor Care Team was designed in response to U-M students who said they needed better-coordinated services related to sexual misconduct.
“This new approach is designed to bridge the gap between the advocacy services provided by SAPAC and the therapy provided by the counselors at CAPS,” said Kaaren Williamsen, SAPAC director.
Both SAPAC and CAPS provide confidential services to students, Williamsen said, which also made working more closely together a logical next step.
The effort is being launched during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month nationally.
“We support you & we are here to help” is the effort’s slogan and a reflection of the commitment of the staff in the two offices, which are both part of Student Life. The SAPAC and CAPS offices also are physically located next to each other on the fourth floor of the Michigan Union.
Danielle Zohrob is the coordinator of sexualized violence services at CAPS and leads the counseling and therapy services for the new team. She said the Survivor Care Team “gives us the opportunity to consult and collaborate in order to provide students — with their consent — an integrative support system of therapy, advocacy and resources to match their needs wherever they are on their healing journey.”
CAPS Director Todd Sevig said he believes the Survivor Care Team also will help the staff in both offices better serve the holistic needs of student survivors of sexual violence as counselors, advocates and survivors all learn from each other over time.
The Survivor Care Team is designed to help survivors process their experience with sexual misconduct by offering coordinated crisis services and resources from both offices. But the service as advocates (SAPAC) and therapists (CAPS) can extend throughout the healing journey for survivors, said Anne Huhman, SAPAC associate director.
“The model is grounded in a holistic healing approach. Whether someone is looking for therapy, advocacy, a support group or a combination of those, this team will come up with a support plan designed specifically for each client,” Huhman said.
Sevig said this effort by CAPS and SAPAC also fits with the university’s overall look at how to better support the mental health and wellbeing of students. That is the focus of a committee designed to strategically position university resources to comprehensively meet the emerging needs of students.
The Student Mental Health Innovative Approaches Review Committee is expected to produce a report in May.