April 9, 2021 is dedicated as National Counseling Day by the American Counseling Association (ACA)*, and One Place celebrates its Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) Crisis Counselor, Ms. Terria Herron. The national effort recognizes the outstanding efforts of counselors as well as raises awareness and promotes mental health for Counseling Awareness Month, celebrated in April.
Herron, who joined One Place in 2019, has worked with its STAR program for 25 years. Herron, who began with STAR as an intern, later became a sexual assault advocate before taking on her current role as a sexual assault therapist in 2016.
As Crisis Counselor, Herron assists sexual assault victims who are clients of the STAR program.
“I offer short-term individual and family counseling services for clients of the STAR program that are victims of adult sexual assault, child sexual assault and victims of human trafficking/sexual exploitation, and adults who may have been victims of childhood sexual assault or molestation,” Herron said. “I assist with educating clients on strategies and coping skills, recommend and make referrals to appropriate community agencies for specialized/long term services, assist with planning and implementation of Sexual Assault awareness month events, and provide community education and awareness on issues of sexual assault and program services as assigned.”
Herron believes her role in STAR and at One Place helps in building a true connection with sexual assault victims and survivors.
“I consider my work to be extremely vital to the STAR program and One Place FJC. As a survivor of sexual assault, I believe my education, years of service, and more importantly my experience of being a sexual assault survivor, helps me to build a better rapport with the client, bring more knowledge of the situation, compassion, understanding, empathy and trust to the table,” Herron said. “This is all a plus for the agency as a whole. Our goal is to ensure the safety of the client; empower them; provide them with much needed patience, empathy, compassion and understanding, as well as education to help them to cope with the trauma they have experienced. Not very often can you say the words “I understand” to a client and they know that you truly do “understand.”
In addition to offering crisis counseling to sexual assault victims, STAR also offers 24-7 crisis helpline and sexual assault forensic exams for children and adults; prophylactic treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections; accompaniment to law enforcement, medical exam and court proceedings; financial assistance to eligible victims of violent crimes in the areas of medical rehabilitation, counseling, funeral, property and moving expenses, future economic loss, crime scene cleanup and more; replacement clothing for clothing taken during exams; and sexual assault awareness and training for the community, first responders, victim advocates, and sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE). STAR serves Montgomery, Autauga, Butler, Chilton, Crenshaw, Dallas, Elmore, Lowndes, Perry and Wilcox counties.
With a Bachelor’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from Faulkner University and a Master’s in General Counseling, specialization in sexual assault and behavioral health services for children from Troy Montgomery, Herron is all about inspiring and empowering survivors to “live your best life.”
“The position I have, I truly love because it gives me an opportunity to provide something to survivors that I never had the opportunity to receive,” Herron said. “It also puts me in a position to provide a greater impact to the survivor by helping them understand it is NEVER THEIR FAULT. For years I have watched many survivors be ashamed, blamed etc., because of something that was out of their control. My main goal is to help a survivor see there is sunshine beyond the trauma of sexual abuse and assault. You can still live your best life, I am.”
If you are a victim of sexual assault or abuse, please call One Place Family Justice Center at 334-262-7378 or visit oneplacefjc.org. Victims may also call the STAR 24-7 Crisis Hotline at 334-213-1227.
*The ACA created “Teal Day,” a social initiative to “build support, recognition, and appreciation for professional counselors.” Celebrated on the second Friday of April, Teal Day encourages awareness of the importance of counseling and self-care for counselors.