California State University, Long Beach
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Trauma Center A Success, Marks One-Year Anniversary

Published: June 1, 2015

When the Long Beach Trauma Recovery Center (LBTRC) opened its doors on the campus of Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center last April, Bita Ghafoori wasn’t quite sure what to expect. After all, it was just the second center of its kind in California.

“We had anticipated we would be providing assistance to individuals who needed trauma-related services, psychological services,” said Ghafoori, a CSULB professor of advanced studies in education and counseling and center director, “and we thought we would do a good portion of research along the way to find out who we’re seeing, what kinds of needs people have and some barriers people have.”

But, the demand for the center’s services was so great it ended up doing more than projected. It saw 450 individuals come through its doors, 100 more than they told the state it would initially serve. One hundred of those were campus-based referrals, while a good number came from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, a supporter of the center.

The primary goal of the center is to create a comprehensive model of trauma and mental health care services for survivors of trauma and victims of crime, as well as their families, while removing barriers to care for underserved victims of crime.

“For many of the clients it is the first time they have ever received any professional help,” she said, “and the type of help provided—evidence-based, trauma-focused treatment—is also a first for many individuals who lost hope that they would ever feel better prior to coming to the LBTRC.”

The center’s success resulted in a two-year grant extension of just more than $1.3 million from the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims for CSULB to continue its partnership with Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center. It was originally supported in 2014 by a $534,579 grant from the same organization along with a $40,000 award from the California Endowment. The additional funding will help support increased staffing.

The center is staffed by six students from CSULB and one from USC. Three graduate students are earning a masters in counseling and three others a master’s in social work. In addition, there are three undergraduate volunteers. To date, 14 graduate students have gone through the program.

Center personnel includes a multidisciplinary group of community professionals, behavioral scientists and clinicians dedicated to providing education, services and treatment to victims of violence. The trauma recovery center team works together to study best practices for violence intervention comprehensively and to provide evidence-based, actionable solutions for victims of violence, educators, industry, government and other stakeholders.

Also involved with the project have been the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), Los Angeles County District Attorney, Long Beach City Prosecutor and Long Beach’s City Manager’s Office with each agency’s participation arising from the City of Long Beach’s Violence Prevention Plan.

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It was thought the training program would focus on CSULB graduate students, who would study counseling, married and family therapy as well as the social work program to do their internships and learn evidence-based therapies for working with individuals who have experienced traumas. However, in addition to working in those areas they found there was a great demand for education about this topic in the community.

“So now we’re offering our students the opportunity to not only learn about trauma treatment and what happens to someone after they experience a traumatic event,” said Ghafoori, “but to actually go out into the community and tell other people. They go to community-based agencies, they go to schools. Our outreach efforts at local schools, hospitals, police departments and community fairs have reached well over 1,000 individuals. It’s been an unexpected, but great experience.”

Another unexpected outcome of the center is working with the human-trafficking division of the LBPD.

“This is exciting for our students and something else we didn’t really anticipate,” said Ghafoori. “Our students get called to the courthouse when they get girls who have been involved in human trafficking. The girls are asked if they are willing to talk to us and if they say yes then we go out and meet with them.” The center also works with CAST, the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking.

In addition, the center received a $25,000 California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention (CalGRIP) grant from the City of Long Beach. CalGRIP is a gang prevention program.

“They would like us to go into the schools which are more at risk of having students drop out to provide some education to the students and staff members,” said Ghafoori. “That’s been really interesting and it’s been a great experience for our grad students because they are actually going out there and becoming experts.

“It’s been very successful for a year,” she added. “I would say this is like a true university-community partnership. The community values the work we do because they value our university, so this is a very mutually beneficial relationship and the students are getting a really great experience. Most importantly, we are achieving our primary goal of assisting individuals who have been impacted by crime and violence to regain and resume their lives.”

The Long Beach Trauma Recovery Center is located at 1045 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 801 and is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 562/491-7977.