Happy Holidays from ABC!

Everyone at ABC Counseling & Family Services wants to extend a warm holiday greeting to you and your family.  Your friendship and support means so much to us. This year has flown by, and we want to share some of the highlights with you:

  • 2 new babies born to staff members, Baby Hazel to Teri and Jason McKean of Champaign and Baby Emery to Jackie and Bob Lewis of Mahomet.  Melissa and Dan Box are expecting their first child in April of 2014.
  • The number of part-time and full-time employees at ABC is at 20.  We train Master level interns every semester and currently have five interns at ABC.
  • Several sexual abuse therapists attended the Midwest Conference on Child Sexual Abuse in September to further their training in a highly specialized field.
  • ABC’s budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 surpassed the $1 million mark.
  • Amanda Black became the new Director of Fundraising and Public Relations while maintaining her position as the Adoption Supervisor.
  • ABC hosted the 9th annual Gifts from the Heart to raise funds for the agency’s sexual abuse program. 
  • 5% of the children that received sexual abuse counseling this year used funds from the Ed Willard scholarship. 13% of the children served received reduced fee counseling through our sliding scale fees.  The number of children needing services and not being able to afford them continues to rise. It is critically important that you continue to donate to this fund (enclosed please find a donation card).
  • In 2013 624 children were seen (Jan-Nov) and 300 new cases were opened.  On a good note, 174 cases were closed.
  • 5 adoption placements occurred in 2013 and ABC assisted with many more.
  • ABC hosted our first Trivia at Twilight event in October. Many new supporters attended and the event was a success. Look for another fun trivia night in 2014.
  • ABC launched a new website. Please check us out at www.abccounseling.org.
  • The Peoria ABC office is moving to a new location in January 2014. We will be located at 7820 N. University St., Suite 101, Peoria, IL 61614. We hope to have an open house once we get settled in, so stay tuned for more information on the open house.
  • We are preparing for our 10th annual Gifts from the Heart event on April 5, 2014 at the DoubleTree in Bloomington. Dueling pianos are back! Please consider hosting a table and/or attending the event. More information to come soon.

Happy Holidays from ABC!


Resilient Children

As a therapist living and working in Tazewell County, I have heard first-hand about some of the devastation that has affected our community by the recent tornadoes in November. It has been encouraging seeing central Illinois come together during this difficult time to support their greater community. Please keep in mind that support will continue to be needed for Tazewell County as they work to rebuild in the next couple of years. After such an unexpected event, some are left with signs and symptoms of trauma. Working in an agency that specializes in sexual abuse counseling has given ABC Counseling staff a background to work from a lens of trauma-informed counseling with the clients we serve. Please see the article below to learn more about trauma’s effect on children and how we can all build resilience in the lives of our children.

Please note that the Peoria ABC office is moving to a new location in January 2014. We will be located at 7820 N. University St., Suite 101, Peoria, IL 61614. We hope to have an open house once we get settled in, so stay tuned for more information on the open house.

By: Sarah Maurer


Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy

Attachment theories focus on the importance of young children building healthy, strong attachments to caregivers.  When healthy attachment styles are developed, the individual will have a framework for attachment in other interpersonal relationships.  Many attachment theorists ascertain that early trauma disrupts a developing attachment system by creating a distorted sense of self, others, and caregivers.  This article discusses Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, which is a therapy based in attachment theory used in order to rebuild or modify a child’s attachment to their caregiver.


Washington Tornado Relief

600 meals were sent out into the community of Washington yesterday at lunchtime and 600 were served at the Crossroads United Methodist Chruch in Washington yesterday, where ABC Executive Director has been volunteering since Wednesday through the Red Cross. Our Director, Lynn Willard states that the “People there affected by the tornado are so resilient and caring of one another. It humbles me.” If you want to donate to the American Red Cross of the Heartland, visit http://www.redcross.org/, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter, and emotional support to those affected by disasters.

Children and Divorce

At ABC, we work with children who have experienced trauma and this includes children whose parents are going through a divorce or who have already divorced. Often times these children are suffering emotionally which can negatively affect school performance, self-esteem and overall mental health.  A divorce can be a traumatic experience for everyone in the family, including the parents, which may result in the child being lost in the shuffle. Often times the child may feel caught between the parents and not know how to continue relationships with one parent without feeling disloyal to the other. Through counseling children of divorce can learn positive coping skills, healthy emotional expression, and have a safe therapeutic environment in which they can share their thoughts and feelings regarding the divorce without any negative consequences. The link below offers helpful tips for parents about how to tell their children about the divorce and what parents can do to help their child through this difficult time.


The Impact of Bullying

As therapists for children at ABC, our goal is to help children heal from trauma, and also cope with other significant difficulties in their lives. Bullying is a prevalent issue faced by many kids today. There have been many short term and long term consequences associated with being the victim of bullying. As therapists and parents of children, it is integral to be aware of the prevalence and impact of bullying. Furthermore, counseling can be a helpful resource for children that have difficulties as victims of bullying. For more information about bullying, see that link below.


Shopping for ABC!

Gingerbread House

Erin’s Law Helping Educate Our Children

Erin’s law is a new law which was signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in January 2013.  This law was developed by, and named after Erin Merryn, a sexual abuse survivor.  At the ages of 6-8 and then 11-13, Erin experienced abuse by both a neighbor and her cousin.  As a result, she set out to advocate in favor of children receiving age-appropriate education to help them in recognizing and talking about sexual abuse.   The law mandates schools to provide sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention to elementary and middle school children.  Before the law, high schools were the only schools mandated to provide this education.  The law allows for schools to bring in agencies to provide the education, or train there own teachers on how to educate the students, using a research based curriculum.

As an agency that provides counseling and treatment to children and families impacted by sexual abuse, this is a positive move in the direction of giving abuse victims a voice in the schools.

Currently 8 states have passed the law (Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Arkansas and Mississippi).  There are an additional 14 states which will be introducing Erin’s Law in 2013-2014.

If you are interested in learning more about Erin’s Law, Erin Merryn has developed a website which can be viewed at http://www.erinmerryn.net/erins-law.html.

By: Alicia Bell, ABC Sexual Abuse Therapist

Trauma-Informed Expressive Art Therapy

At ABC, art therapy is a therapeutic method that is used by many therapists that allow our clients to express themselves visually. Trauma-Informed Expressive Art Therapy is the use of creative arts, such as music, art, and movement as a form of therapy (Malchiodi, 2005). Activities such as the Feelings Mask, Feelings Piggy Bank, and Play-Doh roses are just a few examples of how art therapy is used in treatment with our clients. For more information about Trauma-Informed Expressive Art Therapy, please click the link below. 



Howl at the Market

Please come out to the last Downtown Bloomington Farmer’s Market this weekend and support ABC Counseling. We will be selling delicious goodies at our table to raise money for children that have been sexually abused.  Please see the information below:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

7:30 am – 12 pm

The final market of the outdoor season!  Bring your family (and pets, too!) in Halloween costume.  We will be giving away “Boo Bucks” to each child and/or pet.  A Boo Buck can buy items like honey straws, puppy or kitty treats, small pumpkins and gourds and so much more!

We hope to see you there!