A Call to Action: Counselors Against Sex Trafficking
7:21PM Jun 2, 2023
Hello and welcome to the thoughtful counselor, a podcast dedicated to bringing you innovative and evidence based counseling and mental health content designed to enhance your life. Whether you're a clinician, supervisor, educator, or a person wanting to learn more about the counseling process, we are here to demystify mental health through conversations with a wide range of counseling professional powerhouses. In each episode, you'll learn about current issues in the field, new science, and real life lessons learned from the therapy room. Thank you for joining us on our journey through the wide world of counseling. There's a lot to explore here. So sit back, take a deep breath. And let's get started.
Welcome everyone to the thoughtful counselor. My name is Dr. Stacy Speedling Gonzales and I am your moderator for this particular program. And the title of our program is a call to action counselors against sex trafficking and I have the honor and privilege of having three amazing expert guests on our podcast today. That's Dr. Devin Romero. DR. CLAUDIA Infineon no shiver. Decker and Dr. Priscilla per sat with me. And I'm gonna go ahead and begin by having each of our experts introduce themselves and talk a little bit about themselves and how they came upon this topic. I'll begin with Dr. Devin Romero. Hi,
thank you for having us. I'm actually a fifth year faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio. I'm an assistant professor. My research complements my clinical work by primarily focusing on trauma among historically marginalized at risk and underserved populations, including children and youth and sex trafficking.
Wonderful, thank you so much, and we are happy to have you. My next guest is Dr. Claudia and video no shiver. Decker Would you please introduce, introduce yourself to our audience?
Yes, thank you so much. So hello, everyone. I am an assistant professor, also my fifth year in the Department of Counseling at UTSA. My clinical work and research is also focused on trauma. And it's particularly focused on Spanish speaking clients as I'm a bilingual counselor as well.
Thank you. And finally, I'm excited to also introduce Dr. Priscilla per sap to the conversation.
I am a fourth year faculty and assistant professor here at UTSA. I've been teaching for over eight years now. I teach a variety of clinical courses. And in this capacity, I work with Devin and Claudia in providing training to counselors and counselor trainees, especially bringing in a strengths perspective as it aligns with my research focus. Great to be here.
Excellent. And thank you all for being here. This is a really exciting topic and very timely. So I am very honored and privileged to be introducing you all introducing this topic of counselors against sex trafficking. This is a call to action. And before I begin, I want to just note that the three of you have very diverse backgrounds and very just variation and experiences. How did you all get started in this line of work?
I'll actually take this question. My journey began in Alabama working with young children in the foster care system who were receiving treatment in a residential facility where most of my kiddos who among other things had experienced physical and sexual abuse and actually some of the children on my caseload experience what is known as a familial form of sex trafficking. Now fast forward a handful of years to 2019 I found myself at the University of Texas at San Antonio working with Claudia on a program evaluation we were hired to complete for a community mental health center known in the community for their work with youth who were impacted by sex trafficking. At the time, I think we would both describe ourselves as trauma informed counselors with a strong interest in trauma focused research. Claudia also shared a background and trauma work with immigrants and refugees at the time. And it was our work on this project that guided us down a more specialized path of exploring more of the existing literature on the topic of sex trafficking. Since neither of us had exclusively focused on sex trafficking prior to this point, we were surprised to find that at the time, there were few articles within counseling journals. And although this is not our only vein of research, I do feel that this was a pivotal moment when we identified sex trafficking as essentially part of our calling and start to focus much of our scholarly work in this area. Priscilla joined us a few years later, when we started focusing some of our efforts on training, development, or expertise in the area of strengths based approaches to mental health and well being was a unique addition to our team. And ultimately, we I believe that an increase in community awareness has helped with identifying more individuals who are experiencing or are at risk of sex trafficking, and with creating more funding mechanisms for preventative and intervention efforts. But there is still much work that needs to be done. And this is a reason we find ourselves here today.
Wonderful, thank you so much for that information, and just for inspiring our audience to really consider the fact that while there is limited knowledge, there is just such a need for counselors to be more informed about this topic and to be able to provide adequate care, especially from a trauma informed perspective. One of the things that I wanted to ask you about if you could just clarify for our audience, when you mentioned that familial form of sex trafficking, can you tell us a little bit more about what that is?
So I think it might help to begin with maybe looking broadly at sex trafficking, and its prevalence. I appreciate that you're, you're shining a light and bringing attention to this, and that sex trafficking is a form of human trafficking and is arguably the most misunderstood and damaging forms of human trafficking. Familial trafficking being one form of sex trafficking that is, so with greater understanding and knowledge we begin to, to dispel myths and misconceptions that we have. And when we speak up about the things that we've learned, we dispel the misconceptions others around us have about sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is defined as the recruitment harboring transportation provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. So what that means is essentially, it is humans preying on individuals vulnerabilities for profit and potentially making money with others bodies at any cost. Something that may surprise you is the fact that sex trafficking can occur anywhere and does not discriminate. Think about that. For a moment. Sex trafficking can occur anywhere, meaning it is likely occurring within our own communities, and affecting youth and young adults in our schools. We know that there are factors that can increase one's risk, but anyone can be commercially exploited regardless of geographical location or demographic makeup, so anyone can be trafficked. And on the flip side of that coin, traffickers can be anyone and appear seemingly harmless to an outsider looking in. They could be soccer moms, CEOs, politicians, the neighbor grandpa, cousins, romantic partners, friends, the list goes on. Same goes for the consumers of the services and to extend the legal definition. To extend the legal definition I shared a moment ago, anyone under the age of 18 cannot consent to commercial sex, and is considered a victim of sex trafficking. Also, an initial consent or the exchange of money, services or goods does not mean an individual is not being trafficked. If there is a presence of force, fraud or coercion, or the individual is a minor it is likely the individual is being trafficked. I mentioned earlier that idea of dispelling myths and misconceptions. There are a lot of misconceptions about sex trafficking, and the media does not always help with these understandings. Sex trafficking is not always what you see on TV or in the movies. It's not always a violent crime, and grooming tactics and the use of coercion and lying, defrauding and threats can manipulate individuals into entering the life and even believing that they are willing participants. The trafficker identifies the needs of this person and offers to fill that need in order to gain their trust. For example, if a person is homeless, and the trafficker provides a home in exchange for these services, they may engage in sex trafficking to meet that need. The greater the needs are for an individual, the greater the likelihood for them to be susceptible to being trafficked. Frequently, traffickers operate in spaces where they provide needs such as food and clothing, emotional flattery, becoming the only person who listens and they become the person who controls these resources. Exploitation of essential needs and individuals lack of resources, lack of support and exposure to trauma, are some of the things that increase an individual's vulnerability. Similar to other concerns we might see in the counseling room. Not all people present for counseling services. There's not always an outcry not all individuals experiencing sex trafficking display signs. And not all counselors, first responders and individuals who interact with citizens in the community are educated enough to identify when there are signs vulnerabilities are red flags. This form of modern day slavery impacts millions of people around the world and as especially a large concern within our own communities, a lack of clarity among professionals of what constitutes sex trafficking, and the underground nature, the hidden nature of sex trafficking, greatly impacts who was identified, and our overall understanding of the prevalence in our community. One thing we've come to learn is that the real statistics are unknown. Although some statistics exist from federally reported cases and human trafficking hotlines, it is estimated At less than 1% of survivors of human trafficking case are ever identified. So what is it that we do know? We know that 6.3 million people are estimated to be trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally on any given day that the United States is listed among the top three countries of origin of victims, along with Mexico and Honduras. The leading states in sex trafficking cases are commonly cited as California and Texas, Florida and New York, with Texas being said to contain around 25% of all trafficked persons in the United States at any given time. The age of onset has been reported as young as under the age of eight with most individuals around 15 to 17 years of age when trafficking began. And there are individuals who may be more susceptible or at risk of being trafficked. For example, one in six runaways reported or probable victims of sex trafficking, I can go on and on I'm sorry about this. But if interested in keeping up to date with reported cases of sex trafficking, I suggest exploring resources resources, such as human trafficking, hotline.org, Polaris project.org, and reviewing the Trafficking in Persons Report published annually through the US Department of State's office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Thank you, gosh, you just provided us with so much robust knowledge and information. And I know our audience is really going to appreciate that. A question I have for you is, you've mentioned about some of the work that you're doing in this area. Can you tell us a little bit more about that in the area of sex trafficking, what you and your colleagues are doing?
Absolutely. Our scholarship in the area of sex trafficking actually began with the publication of two articles that were influenced by early conversations we had with professionals in the community. They shared frustrations about needing better methods and tools to identify sex trafficking, and also the need for more professionals with knowledge of how to detect sex trafficking. Since we had limited familiarity with this at the time, we actually decided to turn to the literature. Our first article published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent counseling highlighted sex trafficking specific assessment tools focused on detecting child sex trafficking, and the second published in the International Journal for the advancement of counseling examined assessments available for the screening of sex trafficking for all ages. You might wonder why our work has moved beyond assessment tools rather than focusing on the more it's due to the fact that the more we dug in, and the more conversations we had with professionals in the community, the more we learned the need for more awareness, more resources, and a really big one was more training, which we took as a sign for what we needed to do next. Now, on this path to developing a training program, we decided that we first needed to develop an understanding of what is needed from counselors to work with individuals who have experienced sex trafficking. And to do this, we decided we wanted to conduct a Delphi study where we interviewed experts on the matter. Claudia is actually going to share more about this later. But it was in the middle of our work with this project, and a few years into our work together that we realized our aspirations, and the needs in this area are larger than the two of us. So we developed the counselors against sex trafficking research lab, and created our website. We call it cast RL for short. Our mission with cast RL is to develop research, training and advocacy efforts for mental health professionals in the community in the fight against sex trafficking. Priscilla actually joined us as an affiliate faculty member when we were first developing the counselors against sex trafficking research lab. And a project I'd like to highlight is one led by Priscilla that was the second separate stepping stone on our path to developing a training program. together and with the assistance of to UTSA doctoral students. We completed a scoping review of frameworks and models for working with clients who have experienced sex trafficking. A third stepping stone that we began at that same time as a scoping review, consisted of a handful of transcendental phenomenological and grounded theory research projects that focused on exploring the mental health experiences of sex trafficking. And to do this, we interviewed 10 counselors and 10 survivors to understand their individual experiences through phenomenological analysis. Additionally, we are exploring from a grounded theory approach, how Post Traumatic Growth manifests in the lives of survivors and how social determinants of health may impact the lives of survivors. These research efforts, and the expertise of Priscilla and curriculum development significantly contributed to the training curriculum we developed. We implemented this training program for the first time last year with our first cohort of counselors against sex trafficking interns or cast interns for short. These students were part of our program funded by a grant cloudier Priscilla and I received from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. We are now in our second year of training and placing UTSA clinical mental health counseling students in medically underserved communities in and around the San Antonio area for their master's internship experience. I'm happy to report that to date, we have created a little over 25 Student placements within 11 sites 10 of which are new sites that were not previously affiliated with our department, and some of which provide services exclusively to this population. So not only do we connect our students with sites, but we also provide them with two days of sex trafficking specific training, and provided access to others, such as a self paced training on trust based relational intervention. All that to say, we are very excited about the work that we're doing in this area and are grateful to share this information with you today, my colleagues will actually share more information about some of the current projects that we have.
Wonderful. And I have a question and maybe this would be to you or one of your colleagues, based on the work that you've done all the things that you've just described, what considerations would you think are important in terms of knowledge and skills for counselors to possess in order to effectively serve clients who might be impacted by self by sex trafficking?
So I can take that
question, we actually asked ourselves this a couple years ago, to really have an understanding of what it was needed to understand how to work with individuals who have been trafficked, we actually engage in several studies, which Devin has referred to and I'll talk a little bit more about. The first thing we did was conducted Delphi study, where we interviewed 19 experts on the matter, we intentionally actually recruited counselors and non counseling professionals based on conversations with counseling experts in the community. That said, it's really important for you to think about professionals outside of the counseling. So they have, so you have a holistic understanding of the identification and long term care of child sex trafficking. So in addition to that, we also interviewed 10 counselors who work with this population. And then also 10 survivors of sex trafficking because we want it to be survivor informed. So what did we found? Through the Delphi study, we created 128 child sex trafficking competencies, and we organize them into five domains, I'm not going to go into all of them, because, of course, there are a lot. But just to sort of tell you a little bit about the domains. The first one is an intervention strategies that attend to the helping relationship, such as acknowledging the importance of maintaining a real, transparent, honest therapeutic relationship, and having the knowledge and skills to create a safe therapeutic relationship. Our interviews with counselors and survivors provided more context in the need for competencies that focus on that helping relationship. Because many of these individuals were hurt by those they trusted, their ability to trust and feel safe with others was really significantly impacted. So trusting counselors was not something that was easy for them. And it took a long time, a counselor really must understand that and not take it personal, and work to really build that therapeutic report. The second domain focused on not having just trauma focused knowledge and skills, but having an understanding of child sex trafficking, or sex trafficking in general, and its impact on the lives of survivors. When we interviewed counselors, many of them said, I have several years of working with trauma. And this was a learning curve. They describe working with sex trafficking, as having additional layer of knowledge and skills specific to that subject. It also seems that because of the hidden nature of sex trafficking, having the knowledge and skills to assess for risk factors and indicators of sex trafficking is also very important. Clients will likely not disclose even those we interviewed share that they were very hesitant to open up, either because they were scared of the consequences. They didn't think others would believe them or support them. Or sometimes they didn't even know that there would be in traffic themselves. And so the responsibility of bringing the conversation up of assessing for sex trafficking relies on the counselor. And then the fourth domain included ethics, experts highlighted the need to recognize the difference between sex trafficking and prostitution, having knowledge of law laws pertaining to sex trafficking, and then demonstrating ethical competence, such as setting boundaries, and then just being able to carry out mandated reporting procedures, particularly like setting boundaries was something that came up a lot when we interviewed survivors of sex trafficking. Many of them shared that they found counselors who broke out of traditional counseling roles, such as being available to them through text, going through appointments with their medical appointments with them. They found those counselors to be really helpful, who who understand the ethical questions, implications that may arise for those of you listening, but it's really important for us and for counselors to just be able to consult and make those decisions for themselves. And then finally, because sex trafficking can have open to anyone, just like Devin was saying. The fifth domain is on having a commitment to respecting cultural diversity, and just having knowledge and skills to address those differences in session, in addition to also having an understanding of systemic deficiencies, such as legal in foster care systems that increased vulnerability to sex trafficking. So I wish you all the competencies with you here today, but I'm not going to but just know that those of you who are listening to child sex trafficking, counseling competencies were published by the Journal of interpersonal violence last year and are accessible to the public through our website, but Devin mentioned and that will mention again, at the end,
wonderful, and we'll definitely make sure that we clarify that at the end of the podcast, because I'm sure some of our listeners would really love to delve more into the study. Tell me this, what impact is experiencing sex trafficking have on a survivor's health and life?
We asked survivors about the psychological impact of sex trafficking, and we found that there was no uniformity, each individual presented differently. And just within 10 individuals that we interviewed, there were various mental health diagnosis referenced, just to show you how long our list let me just say a couple. They discussed anger, anxiety, bipolar disorder, body image issues, depression, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, lack of self love, post traumatic stress disorders, self injury, substance abuse, and unfortunately, one of the most common ones suicide ideation. The list goes on. Other presenting concerns included difficulties with autonomy and freedom and developing an identity outside of the sex trafficking, and regaining a sense of control. You would think, you know, that's all we found. Yet. A really important aspect of our interviews was that and what it taught us is that the impact of sex trafficking is multi dimensional. What do I mean by that is that when we asked what's the psychological impact of sex trafficking, we found that sex trafficking also impact individuals physical, vocational, relational, and spiritual areas of well being. When survivors spoke about the impact of sex trafficking on their physical well being, they discussed pre existing conditions, for example, that worsened because of what they encountered. They also shared physical damage or illnesses as a result of sex trafficking and example, some of them shared about hip issues, or their jaw ticking as a result of a blow to the jaw. They also spoke about their experiences of sex trafficking, impacting their education and work. Their difficulties are things we typically see in other populations who have experienced trauma and difficulty concentrating difficulty relating to co workers, for example, but an additional component was sometimes having to lie about their previous experiences or their skill set. After their sex trafficking experiences, financial instability was a major reason for returning to sex trafficking. One of the biggest ones was the relational impact of sex trafficking. It wasn't only on survivors relationship itself, but with family, friends, coworkers, romantic partners. It was interesting because difficulties with relationships tended to go from one extreme to the other. On one end, they would completely close off to people lack of trust. And on the other end, they had lack of boundaries and confusing sex with love. I'll share a quote from one of our participants, she said, relationships would be the next probably most common challenge. wanting to have sex is not necessarily a thing that you'll ever want, again, after this experience, especially the more dramatic ones. And then just because of the nature of what they went through, all participants spoke about the connection between sex trafficking and spiritual religious practices. Many question religions believes because of the hardships that they endured, with some even experienced religion as a form of manipulation, but it was interesting because at the same time, most reconciled with religious and spiritual beliefs, but it took a long time some of them they said 11 years before they were able to sort of do so. And it was actually once if they were able to reconcile it was an important aspect of the recovery. However, we did have some individuals who religious symbols were a trigger. One participant in particular said she terminated counseling relationship because it across us in the counselor's office. So it was really interesting that even though we went in thinking, we're just going to ask about that psychological impact. We got a much more holistic of understanding of, of the impact of sex trafficking.
Sure. And given that these are the impacts, what are some considerations for counselors
This is based on not just the interviews with the survivors, but also, based on the interviews with counselors that have worked with this population. What they all sort of agree in is that there's a specific set of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and actions that are required when working with sex trafficking survivors. In terms of knowledge, many counselors talked about how despite, again, knowing how to work with trauma, they needed specific information on sex trafficking. What is sex trafficking, who is at risk, as we've been talking, there's a lot of misconceptions. And so knowing specific terms that clients will use, being able to identify risk factors, understanding recruitment and coercion tactics. And then just understanding how this specific kind of trauma impacts the client's mindset and overall behavior. In terms of skills, they talked about being able to assess for safety before diving into trauma work, that we actually met with an organization that works with sis trafficking survivors, and they emphasize how many of their clients are abused from a very early age, which affects their ability to learn basic skills. So it's very important to focus on safety both emotionally and physically, and teach this to clients before diving into processing. Then they talked about the skills to be able to process trauma, but making sure that we assess for safety first. And then as explained before regaining a sense of safety. Dignity control is really critical when we're thinking about supporting survivors of sex trafficking. Care should be supportive, we should avoid judgmental statements or actions. It's very critical for counselors to treat the survival as a whole person, empowering the client and sharing their right to information, their right to privacy, having them participate in decision making many of them they didn't have this ability to have decisions to have control. So the counselors talked a lot about attitudes that facilitated that during the recovering process. One counselor that we interviewed, she listed the attributes as producing qualities, like open mindedness, empathy, warmth, genuineness, authenticity, those are things that are really important to utilize when working with this population. And then one final thing that it was really interesting to hear counselors highlight was that, that we've also heard from other professionals, is that when working with this population, counselors might need to engage in work that advocates for clients within and outside of the population, because so much, sorry, advocates for clients within and outside of the session, because so much of what ails sex trafficking survivors falls on systemic or external factors, issues such as poverty, and unemployment, legal issues. So although all of that exists outside of the counselors role, it seems that clients may struggle to succeed in the recovery, if they don't receive help in these areas. One of the counselors emphasize that it's not just okay, you're gonna give a client a list with resources and say, here's a list with a number with a good number of resources. Here's the numbers. And that's it, you may have to call these resources with them, and make those connections yourself. As I mentioned before, some clients are even thankful when they would go to these appointments with them. And so understanding that action and that sense of advocacy and how it may sometimes be outside of the role of the counselor is really important to think of, too. Thank you.
You mentioned earlier the need for training. Tell us more about the training programs that you all are offering.
Yeah, I address this as Devin initially mentioned, I was brought into spear head the efforts around developing a new, a specialized training on sex trafficking. Before I delve right into what goes into the training, it's important that I remind us of why training is needed. First, in order to do that, let's begin to begin by looking at the landscape of sex trafficking. Right first, in the beginning, Devon also described sex trafficking for us, we might have gotten a sense that it is a complex topic topic to uncover, right? It's a social problem that is multi layered. That's complex with many unknowns. So in terms of clarity, not just for the public, but also for professionals. That's such a confusion in terms of what constitutes its trafficking, its prevalence, its warning signs. Oftentimes, it's not just that. Counselors don't know what to look for, or the public don't know what to look for. It's the it's those who are trafficked themselves who may not know that they are being trafficked. So this increases the complexity around identification of sex trafficked. Okay. And so, we see that on one hand, it is about the psychoeducation piece. But on the other, as Claudia was going through all the multifaceted impact of sex trafficking on individuals affected by it, counselors are here experiencing counselors and mental health professionals in general, at large, experienced difficulties in terms of knowing what works in effectively treating them, right, what is effective in our work. And so given the prevalence of sex trafficking, it is extremely likely that one of these days that already if not, but through our doors, we have individuals who have been trafficked to walk in seeking services may not directly be because they are needing help, in terms of, you know, helping them with with their trafficking situation, it is sometimes as I mentioned, they may not even be aware of it. So counselors need to know how to identify, assess, and also work effectively. And this is something that over and over again, we hear from counselors, mentioning a dice and in the interviews that we have done and also in the literature. So some of the things that we hear commonly is that there's inadequate knowledge and skills around serving this population. cloudier shared of how counselors found knowledge and skills, especially those who work with clients who might have experienced trauma, although those knowledge and skills are helpful, but it's not adequate. While you're while you work with this particular sex trafficking clients, so lack of our understanding in terms of what our effective theoretical frameworks, models, techniques, approaches specific to sex trafficking, lack of that clarity, is what makes it important for counselors to have such specialized training specific to sex trafficking. And also something that we hear is that counselors and needing some direction of how to structure our sessions, right, so counselors find themselves being very anxious of how do I go about in my counseling session, when I know that someone has been traffic? Needless to say, when we have counselor trained counselor, internal counselor trainees, they may definitely benefit from having some guidance around this. And so another another piece that I'm reminded of is cloudier mentioning about resources and support services. That's another area that counselors, there's a big gap counselors quite don't know where to look for what to look for clients, of course, don't know what they might not, you know, what resources that they could they could use that they may not have. So it's important that counselors are able to meet those needs. And so that's another area of that we identified, needed to be included in the training. And then something else that Claudia alluded to, was a how, you know, in general, working with clients who are expe, who experience trauma is that effect of effect of that on counselors, right? So how do counselors deal with how can counselors deal with vicarious trauma, compassion, fatigue, burnout, or strategies for self care in general. So these are other areas that we have included in the training. So these are some of those that highlighted the need for training specific to sex trafficking, more and more in the recent times, we see that in the limited literature that we do have, the need for training is being highlighted. So this week, took up as a challenge to develop, like Devin initially mentioned, because already there was some work that was done as a part of Cass Research Lab, that we further developed our agenda to include the training program development. So what makes our training a bit unique and comprehensive, I would say, is the integration of a strengths based lens as we take this approach. So we go beyond trauma processing and symptom management, to help clients experience flourishing and to get out of the mindset of only to survive, but to thrive. So that's important, right? Because for a long time our clients get into that mode of just trying to manage and deal with all the crisis situations that they might be experiencing, just to go by living their everyday life. It's so important that counselors identify when it might be appropriate to help our clients to, to look for a life that could be more fulfilling. So to that, that doesn't just happen. So it's important that counselors are able to deliberately engage in incorporating exercises or approaches that foster flourishing in their in their toolbox. So to be able to incorporate that we, in our training program, we have incorporated a whole module that focuses on how can counselors integrate tools into the work that can help our clients to get to a state of flourishing. So, Claudia, I think Devon, when she talked mentioned about post traumatic growth is one of the research study that we are doing. So just consider post traumatic growth, for example, right. Claudia talked about impacts on of sex trafficking on survivors. And so one of the things that would be important for counselors to help kind of bring to awareness of our clients is that as an aftermath of trauma, sometimes at some point, there are these aspects, or aspects of growth that might come as a result of the experiences themselves. So this in the literature we seek is known as post traumatic growth. So to be able to know what to look for, and the strategies to cultivate that is something that is important for counselors, especially working with this population. So this is one of the examples of a construct we have added in our training, other constructs, especially from a strengths based lens includes forgiveness, gratitude, self compassion, development of resiliency, hope, optimism, growth mindset, and also kind of taking a strengths based lens from a perspective of developing, get helping them with identifying what their strengths are, in developing vocabulary for them, right. And so that they are able to slowly be able to transition to a place where the experience of flourishing or an optimal well being. And so these are some of the efforts that we have so far, that we have put in so far in terms of the training program itself.
Wonderful. All just excellent, excellent. So tell me this, what is next for you all and your work in this area?
Yeah, so I can say that in your future, as you might see, a lot of like each of us have so much to say, because we are so excited and passionate about this work that we do. And and the impact that this has. So first on our list for our future plans is that we will begin to pilot our training curriculum, we will connect more with the community, we will begin to think of ways to offer these training to supervisors and men to help professionals in the community. We actually offered our first workshop last month to our counseling graduate students, and invited clinicians from over 70 clinical sites in our community. So we hope to do more of this community outreach community based work in the future. And I would say Second on our list is to do some traveling, traveling to better understand the concern, prevention and intervention and overall efforts within other communities in in the US and internationally. We'd like to kind of broaden our global audience, and we'll reach and our research in that way. Finally, I would say all our past current and planned work in forms are efforts to write a book to help counselors to work with this population. So a book that's pretty much serves like a guide, a manual for counselors, so provides a really good guidelines of how to work that could be a helpful resource for them. So we are excited to share that we we recently secured a book contract with the American Counseling Association, a CA to write a book. So this these are some of the things that we have on the horizon.
Wonderful. And for anyone that's interested in our audience, how might they find you and your works?
So anyone interested in communicating with us can find contact information for each of us on the UTSA department of counseling faculty page and can follow our work on our counselors against sex trafficking Research Lab, Facebook page, or on our Instagram account using our handle CAS T research and of course on our website Write that was mentioned a few times before because we're a little excited about it, which is www.castrl.com, where we provide updates on our projects and provide access to resources such as the competency scales we mentioned earlier and presentation materials from previous events.
Excellent. Thank you all so much for the opportunity to interview you all. I'm coming away with so much knowledge. And I know our audience is as well. And of course, I'm going to make sure that there are several resources that are available on our website so that anyone who's in our audience that's interested may reach out to these ladies and find out more about the work that they're doing and continue to follow it because it sounds like there's so much more to come. Thank you all so much, and to the audience of the thoughtful counselor, thank you for the privilege of being able to moderate this session, and we will sign off
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