Can’t Tell Foundation combines a variety of therapies to help victims

“I watched in horror as a bullied classmate leapt to his death in my freshman year in college,” said Shari B. Kaplan, LCSW, founder of The Can’t Tell Foundation and creator of the CTF Treatment Program. “I knew that could have been me. I had been bullied in school because of a disfigurement from an early childhood facial injury. But my visible scars had been removed and I was fortunate to have a therapist who helped make bearable my psychological wounds. My classmate wasn’t so lucky.”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in teens and young adults. Each year 3.7 million school children in America report being bullied while 3.2 million are reported as bullies. In the US alone, more than 40 million adults are survivors of childhood sexual assault. That’s why Kaplan created the CTF Treatment Program -- to help these victims become survivors and ultimately to thrive and achieve their goals.

That’s also why Kaplan has a focus on LGBT youth who are often the targets of bullies and who have higher rates of addictions, self-inflicted injuries, and suicide.

“I know how painful life can be when you wake up in the morning and know you’re going to be bullied just because you showed up for your day,” said Kaplan, wincing at the thought.

Research shows abuse, bullying and sexual assault may harm one’s self-esteem and lead to depression and suicide. It also may cause serious neuro-biological damage to the brain. These wounds compound the psychological, social and emotional problems of trauma and increase the difficulty in treating their effects.

“That’s why my treatment program includes so much more than just traditional therapy and/or pharmacological interventions,” said Kaplan. “We have to include a physiological dimension in healing the neuro-biological damage of trauma.”

The healing practices she uses combine a variety of tools not normally associated with traditional Western psychotherapy such as Qi Gong, Krav Maga, Tai Chi, Yoga and other movement systems. They require attention and focus that balance the brain and help bring it back to a more normal functioning according to Kaplan.

Other therapies used include individual, group and family sessions, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), psychopharmacology, meditation, acupuncture, Reiki, aromatherapy, and horse-assisted therapy. They may all be used in a variety of combinations.

Nutrition and fitness programs, drama, therapeutic listening, music, even stylists, clothiers and personal appearance experts can also play a role in helping trauma victims recover.

“Our outward appearance reflects and affects how we’re feeling inside. We can’t miss any opportunity to heal,” Kaplan said. “People find these different disciplines at different times and gain what they may from them. I have used them very successfully in my practice for many years. I believe we’re the first to formally combine them into tailored treatment programs for individual clients.”

CTF was launched in 2010. Kaplan and her board are developing plans to finance the creation of a single facility to house the many disciplines so patients and their families will have one place to come for all their needs.

One of Kaplan’s major projects is her “My Dream Campaign” to help clients who cannot afford the program.  Having needed the services of many different practitioners to treat her own children’s sexual assault by the son of a trusted employee, Kaplan discovered how expensive these services can be, with or without, health insurance.

“I know this approach works,” Kaplan said. “And it does cost money. So I feel it is incumbent on me to help others as I was able to find help for my own children. It’s like paying it forward.”

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