California Victims of Crime Compensation Fund

Do you know someone who is a victim of or witness to a crime?  If so, they may be suffering from Acute Stress Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression or other forms of Anxiety as a result.

It is important to know that they can get help for this change in their physical or mental health as a result, even if they have no insurance or inadequate health insurance.  This is where the California Victims of Crime Compensation Fund can help.  Visit their website to find out who is eligible for assistance.  Many States have VOC programs, and a quick internet search can link you to those resources.

Not sure how to talk to a friend or family member about getting help or about their trauma?  Worried about saying the “wrong” thing or re-victimizing the victim?  Consulting a good therapist who is experienced with trauma is a great way to get support with this.  You can also find information online.

Many of the clients I see in my practice have been victims of trauma at some time in their life, and it is so rewarding to be a part of their recovery.  Reducing shame, educating about symptoms, normalizing their suffering, and building hope for their lives are all a part of that process.  To schedule an appointment or consultation, please call 619-369-7450.

The Continuum of (mental) Health

We are all on the continuum of mental health, just like we are all on the continuum of physical health.  I like to remind my clients of this…often.  When we become sick with a cold or the flu, our body forces us to obtain the rest it needs in order to recover.  When we become sick with infections, pain or other serious illnesses, we seek medical care to help us heal. 

Most of us are functioning pretty well, but if you add too much stress, are not getting enough exercise and are not eating or sleeping well…there will likely be a negative effect on your body or mind.   Some people have had difficulty functioning for longer periods of their life.  Perhaps they have biological predisposition to less-than-desirable physical/mental health and not enough support in their life.

Have you ever pulled your back or twisted an ankle?  Too much stress on the body without enough support and…”snap“.  If you have experienced this, then you know how long it can take to heal, and often the back or ankle tends to remain a little vulnerable to repeat injuries, if it is not adequately supported. 

I like to use this example as a metaphor for our mental health.  We all have our limits, and without enough support we can “snap”.  If you find yourself “snapping” at your friends and family, then perhaps it is time to obtain the support your need in your life. 

You don’t have to be “crazy” to benefit from mental health services, and I am always surprised when a new client who has never had therapy before tells me that they didn’t know if they were “crazy enough” to seek therapy.  We all need help at times.  Please remember that.

If you have questions about the benefits of seeking psychotherapy or mental health services, please give me at call at 619-379-7450.

Bunny (or pet) Therapy for Children

My good friend and colleague, Terry Wilke, incorporates a beautiful brown bunny named Cocoa into her work with children to help them better understand their feelings and cope with stressful situations.  This is from her recent newsletter.  

 “Why Cocoa is Good for You

Many of you know that Terry Wilke, LCSW has a pet bunny Cocoa who can come to the office and help with psychotherapy sessions. Perhaps you have a pet of your own that you enjoy petting and playing with. But did you know that pets can actually be therapeutic?

 Research has shown the following:

  • Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets
  • People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets
  • Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than those without pets

We all have a basic human need for touch. Petting, holding, and cuddling your pet can meet that need. In addition, pets can provide unconditional love, companionship, and playfulness.

 Benefits of Pets for Children

A pet can provide some specific benefits for your child:

  • Teaches responsibility
  • Teaches compassion and empathy
  • Source for calming/relaxing
  • Stimulates learning
  • Stimulates the child’s imagination and curiosity

The Use of Pets in Psychotherapy

With permission, and consideration of the fit for the client, incorporating a pet into the psychotherapy session can be very helpful. Clients may find it soothing to pet a furry friend when discussing something painful, stressful or traumatic. Animals are also very good examples of being mindful and living in the moment which is often a therapy goal.

For children, interacting with the pet can be a way to practice social skills, slowing down, gentleness, and consideration. Also, the pet offers an opportunity to discuss many of the child’s challenges through the metaphor of similar challenges the pet faces. The child may talk to the pet or draw pictures for the pet because they feel safe telling the pet their inner conflicts and feelings.

If you think you or your child would benefit from interacting with Cocoa in a therapy session, please discuss this with Terry Wilke, LCSW. 

Data obtained from”

For more information about Terry Wilke, LCSW, you can visit her website at

On a related note, you might like to listen to this report from NPR’s Health Blog, Pet Therapy:  How Animals and Humans Heal Each Other