“Hi I’m Natasha,” I said to a room full of children, as I pulled up a chair that was entirely way too small for my six foot frame. Children are often humorous, gregarious and lively and this time was no different. However, I wasn’t shadowing an after care school program, I was sitting in a group therapy session for children ages six to twelve who are related to victims of domestic violence. When I walked into the room they were polishing off their cheeseburgers and baked beans. Weekly sessions on Friday thematically vary but are often centralized around nonviolence. This week the victim advocate, Sheron, taught an engaging lesson on body language and being able to gauge someone’s mood from their facial expressions and posture.

After we all said our goodbyes, I sat down with Sheron. She graciously spoke about her experiences throughout the years.  She showed me her lesson plans and explained how she works towards building a harmonious environment. It’s important to Sheron and Hubbard House that the children know that they aren’t alone in their experiences and that the other children have experienced something similar. When delving deeper into the lesson, the advocate expressed that recognizing body cues will help the children with knowing how to deal with unpredictable situations.

Shadowing the group therapy session gave me a chance to see how imperative outreach programs for domestic violence are for any community. When I interviewed for the intern position, seeing the lengths that shelters go through to ensure the privacy and protection for victims was an incredibly emotionally draining process. I expected to walk away from the therapy session feeling emotionally depleted because I’m sensitive about such heavy subjects but I left feeling the exact opposite. Shadowing the therapy session was a gratifying experience where in the short amount of time I spent with the children I witnessed resilience and contentment. These children are not weathered by the adversity they’ve faced in their young lives. I am incredibly inspired.

When facing adversity we, as people, seek solace and solidarity in loved ones, whether it is friends or family. When I’m feeling under the weather emotionally talking to someone who has gone through similar experiences is consoling. This is what I believe group therapy sessions for these children provides. Therapy sessions are a safe haven where children learn how to navigate through their life experiences.

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