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Two Billings therapists offer free group therapy after city's streak of violence

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Posted at 6:07 PM, Nov 19, 2023

BILLINGS — Two Billings therapists are on a mission to heal the community. After two weeks of violence in the city, Tara Sorenson and Alison James are offering their services for free through public group therapy sessions.

Eight shootings have rocked the community of Billings, taking a toll on the mental health of many.

“Everybody seems to be suffering from the increased violence we’ve been having, the lack of mental health services that are accessible,” said Billings therapist Tara Sorenson Sunday at Jake’s Downtown.

Sorenson of Wise Way Counseling and Coaching and Alison James of Beautiful Directions Counseling Services teamed together, hoping to reduce the trauma Billings residents have endured.

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Tara Sorenson

“I’m a EMDR certified therapist. And EMDR is a pretty effective therapy approach for trauma. It works really well, and it works really fast,” James said.

Both Sorenson and James are certified in a form of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing.

“So, if people are having the movie replay over and over again or the sounds of the shootings. Or they’re seeing images, anything that’s really distressing that’s interfering with their life, we can really help to reduce and eliminate those symptoms with this group protocol,” said Sorenson.

“It’s a protocol that really helps people come together, normalize these symptoms but nobody has to talk during this process, the group process,” she added.

Free and available therapists are needed now more than ever.

“Most of the private practice therapists that I know as well as the agency therapists that I know, they have a waitlist. It’s very difficult to get into a therapist immediately. The need is immediate, but the time frame for someone being able to get you in isn’t immediate,” James said.

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Alison James and Tara Sorenson

However, EMDR can help when an immediate solution is needed and it’s one that Sorenson said is especially helpful in preventing PTSD from developing.

“We can help people quickly. It’s a rapid response and it really reduces those symptoms, so people don’t have to suffer,” Sorenson said.

Thanks to Jake’s Downtown, the two counselors have a space to help those in need, not just for Sunday’s session, but for their future one’s as well.

“You can make a difference, and this isn’t a law enforcement problem, this is a community problem and little, tiny changes with a lot of people end up making a big impact in this community,” said James.

James said the pair are looking for other community based therapists that are interested in their mission.

Sorenson and James plan to host their next group therapy session after the holidays. If you’d like any more information on the next session, email tara@wisewaycounseling.com or alisonwatt23@yahoo.com.