WISE & Healthy Aging, a Santa Monica-based social services organization, has received a $90,000 grant from the Archstone Foundation to provide psychotherapy services to victims of elder abuse

Abuse victims in the city or county of Los Angeles will be referred to the program through the 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. The project will initially serve clients older than 65 years of age.

The program previously made psychotherapy sessions available only to elders with persistent mental health issues, according to the organization.

“In addition to assisting current victims of elder abuse, the Archstone Foundation grant supports our effort to change the way the mental health community views and cares for elder abuse survivors by increasing awareness among professionals and integrating mental health services into the elder abuse intervention network,” said Molly Davies, vice president of Elder Abuse Prevention and Ombudsman Services at WISE & Healthy Aging.

She said the new project is designed to accomplish three major goals: help elder abuse survivors process their feelings and deal with the trauma they have experienced; help victims protect themselves from becoming re-victimized; and share the project design and client treatment outcomes with other professionals.

Clinical, organizational and financial data from this pilot project will be analyzed to identify ways to improve these services and provide a blueprint for other agencies considering a similar program.

Jennifer Levine, clinical director of Mental Health Services at WISE & Healthy Aging, said the project will make individual psychotherapy available to victims of any type of elder abuse, including physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and financial abuse, as well as neglect and self-neglect.

“To make this service as convenient as possible for victims of elder abuse, a client may be seen in their own home in the community, in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or at a place of their choosing, such as a park, senior center or church. Therapy also will be available at the WISE & Healthy Aging clinic in Santa Monica,” Levine said, adding that it is expected that each client will receive about 10 therapy sessions.

Therapists, all of whom are in post-doctoral fellowship programs, will use standardized tests to measure pre- and post-treatment levels of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to WISE.

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