Who we are
The Outpatient Department, affectionately known as The Shepherd Program, provides a variety of programs to support children, adults, and families impacted by sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and other trauma, such as family violence and physical abuse. To learn more about our Outpatient services or to make a referral, please contact the Outpatient Department’s Intake Coordinator at (401) 353-3900 ext. 416.
Treatment is available for children, adults, and families and services are provided in the office and in the community.
- The Shepherd Program offers expertise in the areas of sexual abuse and trauma treatment. Clinicians also offer therapy to children, adolescents, and adults for concerns including but not limited to: depression, anxiety, grief/loss, and adjustment.
- Feel free to share this flyer about our Outpatient services with potential clients. You can also read this flyer about our services for adults.
The Shepherd Program utilizes a variety of treatment modalities recognized as best practices as well as evidence-informed therapy for trauma treatment.
- We incorporate Expressive Therapy, Play Therapy, Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), and sensory interventions.
The Clinicians at The Shepherd Program provide a number of trainings to service providers and caretakers.
- Our vast experience in the treatment of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and trauma have brought us to local and national forums which have allowed us to share our expertise, treatment techniques, treatment successes, and clinical insight with others.
- We offer an annual Shepherd Training Series, with monthly workshops complete with CEUs, focusing on strengthening and supporting children and families impacted by trauma. Learn more by reading our 2022 Training Series flyer.
- Should you be interested in professional consultation and/or training specific to concerns regarding sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or other trauma, please contact the Director of the Outpatient Department, Melissa Santoro, at email@example.com. Read more about professional consultation in this flyer.
- Should you be interested in pursuing employment opportunities with our amazing team, please visit our Employment page here.
- For more trainings, see the bullet in the below section about the Continuity of Care Group (CCG), or see the CCG flyer.
Innovative Practices - In 2017, Clinicians in The Shepherd Program revised their previous Non-Offending Parent Education and Support Group Manual to include best practices and current research. The new manual, the Families Impacted by Sexual Abuse (FISA) Curriculum contains a Facilitator Manual which lists, step by step, how to cover each topic within.
- The primary goal of the Shepherd Program’s FISA Curriculum is to increase knowledge of sexual abuse issues for parents and caregivers and to provide clinical support and guidance regarding the impact of sexual abuse.
- The FISA Curriculum gives options to explore, educate, and support caregivers for each topic, with various modalities to explore the information, i.e. videos, handouts, activities. Some topics include: Family Culture & Child Sexual Abuse; Pornography Impacts & Prevention; Sexual Exploitation of Children; Family Reintegration; and Family Resiliency.
- The FISA Curriculum will be available for purchase via a two-day training offered at St. Mary’s Home for Children. Training participants will have the opportunity to: Understand the concepts and topics carefully selected for the FISA Curriculum; Learn how to use the curriculum to run clinical groups with parents/caretakers of sexual abuse survivors and/or provide the curriculum in a one-to-one setting, and explore potential challenges that may arise during the group. All participants will receive a copy of the FISA Curriculum.
- To learn more about the FISA Curriculum, please contact the Director of the Outpatient Department, Melissa Santoro, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Innovative Practices - The Shepherd Program has been offering Equine Assisted Psychotherapy services since November 2013 and is the only agency in RI offering this service as a trauma-specific outpatient treatment. We currently offer this service as a collaboration with Faith Hill Farms in East Greenwich, RI.
- Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is an on the ground, experiential technique, which means participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then discussing feelings, behaviors, and patterns.
- We utilize the EAGALA model of EAP with our clients which includes a Team Approach comprised of an Equine Specialist, a Mental Health professional, and horses who all work together with clients in all EAGALA sessions.
- Children, teens, adults, and families are all eligible for our Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) program. Each client will participate in a screening appointment at The Shepherd Program and if this model of treatment is found to be a good fit, they can receive 10 sessions of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy at Faith Hill Farms in East Greenwich, RI. To make a referral or to learn more about our Equine services, please call the Outpatient Intake Coordinator at 401-353-3900, ext. 416.
- Our program is open to at-risk youth, veterans, service members and their families, trauma survivors, families, couples, and groups. Sessions are scheduled throughout the week and weekend. For more information about the EAGALA model please visit eagala.org.
- For more information about Faith Hill Farm please visit https://faithhillfarm.wixsite.com/egri.
- A summary of a client’s EAP session: A middle school boy created an obstacle course. He struggled in school with bullying, truancy, and making peer connections due to anxiety, a result of a history of witnessing violence. His obstacle course represented his upcoming school year. He explained: Blocks were all the regular challenges he would face in the school year. Hula hoops were the “black holes” that are unpredictable challenges. A long line of cones outside of the course were extra-curricular activities that he normally has to push himself to engage in. The pole at the end was the end of the school year, which he viewed as a relief. The course was quite crowded with obstacles when he was done. He was asked to write some things he would need to get through the obstacles. He responded, “Friends, positive mindset, good determination.” The horse had been standing still at the other end of the arena since the session started. Just as the client was ready to get the horse and take it through the course, the horse went to the end of the course and ran through to the beginning…without hitting a single obstacle. The client stood open-mouthed and said, “That was fantastic!” He identified the horse as STRENGTH.
Outpatient Services, Office- and Community-Based
In our main building at 420 Fruit Hill Avenue in North Providence, office-based treatment is provided by therapists who specialize in sexual abuse and trauma-specific treatment. We have several options to provide intensive, community-based supports to children, adults, and families, all with various funding sources. Service length may vary between three-to-six months, and weekly service time ranges between six-to-10 hours, depending upon the service and the family’s needs. All of our community-based services are available statewide.
Payment for Office Based services include: Neighborhood Health Plan of RI, United Behavioral Health of RI, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and United Health Care; Crime Victims’ Compensation Program funds; and self-pay.
Office based Services include:
- Sexual Abuse Evaluations.
- Individual therapy for children and adults (sexual abuse or trauma specific, as well as general mental health needs).
- Family therapy specific to the impacts of sexual abuse and trauma.
- Group therapy for survivors of all ages; (See below for information about our groups.)
Community Based Services are designed to meet each individual's and family’s needs and may include individual and family therapy; care coordination; systems advocacy; and parenting support and education.
All of our Community Based Services are provided by a Clinical Team, comprised of a Clinician and a Care Coordinator, whose goal is to assist the client and their family with safety, stability, and achieving wellbeing. Our specialty Community Based Clinical Teams include services to support:
- Youth at risk of sexual exploitation.
- Adults and youth that have survived sexual exploitation.
- Adults and children in need of intensive community-based support to avoid hospitalization.
- Children in families formed through adoption and foster care struggling with sexualized behaviors and symptoms related to childhood sexual abuse.
- Children and families impacted by sexual abuse.
The Shepherd Program recognizes the value and clinical benefits of peer support. To that end, we have several Clinical Support Groups designed specifically for youth, adults, and families impacted by sexual abuse and trauma.
- There is something for everyone in our Hope for Healing Groups. Regardless of trauma history, age, and progress in treatment, clients have experienced clinical benefit from participation in this clinical group therapy.
- We also offer the My Life My Choice Group which is designed to empower youth to protect themselves from the commercial sex industry and its perpetrators. This group is geared for female-identifying teens, 12-18 years old, and is beneficial for all teenage girls, as all teenage girls are at risk for sexual exploitation. Clients do not need to have a sexual abuse history to benefit from this group.
- There is a screening process for clients that are interested in participating in our Groups, and all referrals go through the Intake Coordinator at (401) 353-3900 ext. 416.
- For information about our groups please see the Clinical Support Groups flyer.
- For referral information and deadlines, please see the Clinical Support Groups Schedule flyer.
The mission of the Continuity of Care Group (CCG) is to provide education, advocacy, and interdisciplinary collaboration to promote safety, stability, and well-being for youth and families impacted by sexual abuse while utilizing best practices in treatment and support services.
- The Continuity of Care Group (CCG) is a collection of community partners who were initially established to create guidelines to specifically qualify providers in the treatment of youth with problematic sexual behaviors as well as the treatment of survivors of child sexual abuse.
- We have created a list of training topics that we offer in the hopes to provide education and support to service providers from all disciplines to best meet the needs of youth with problematic sexual behaviors, child survivors of sexual abuse and their families. To learn more about these trainings, please see the CCG flyer.
- The Director of the Outpatient Department currently acts as the Chair for the Continuity of care Group and monthly meetings are held at St. Mary’s Home for Children. If you would like to join the CCG meetings, please email MSantoro@smhfc.org to express your interest.
Our unique Families Impacted by Sexual Abuse Clinical Support Group (FISA) is a 12-to-14-week clinical program designed to provide support and education to caregivers of children affected by sexual abuse.
- Through the FISA Support Group, information is shared about sexual abuse including such topics as signs and symptoms of sexual abuse and exploitation, how caretakers can support survivors, and resource information.
- The goal of this curriculum is to educate and support caretakers so they can protect children from sexual abuse, and provide support to survivors.
- There is a screening process for clients that are interested in participating in our FISA Group, and all referrals go through the Intake Coordinator at (401) 353-3900 ext. 416.
- Please see the Clinical Support Groups flyer here.
- For referral information and deadlines, please see the Clinical Support Groups Schedule flyer.
“I have never worked with an agency that cared as much as your staff. Thank you all very much for your help during these difficult times.” ~ Client
“As a mom, I have to say that the EOS Program is amazing. All my needs were met; the staff is amazing. My child’s clinician was excellent. I couldn’t ask for any better support. Melissa and Julie are the best! I thank God for this program, they have helped my child and myself come a long way.” ~ Parent
“Brandi and Melissa (FISA Group Co-Leaders) were amazing and very knowledgeable! I was very nervous but they made this informative and supportive! Excellent!” ~ FISA Group Member
"The teamwork and support was well coordinated for my child." ~ Parent of School Student
“The Shepherd Program is the perfect combination of empathy, strength, support and professionalism.” ~ Clinician
“We had good communication and support from clinicians and teachers.” ~ Parent of School Student
“I have learned so many things about myself with the help of my Clinician. Because of my Clinician and The Shepherd Program, I can actually live to see my 17th birthday! Years ago, I didn’t think that was possible. I am happy to have learned to accept who I am and to love myself. Also, I have built a better relationship with my mom. The Shepherd program also helped my mom with her depression which I am thankful for. Thank you!” ~ Client
“The Team of talented and caring professionals is why I choose to work at St. Mary’s. They have become family and friends and make it possible to do this challenging work.” ~ Clinician
“Angelica is great. She is helpful, informative and understanding. All the providers were accommodating to my special needs and addressed crisis situations immediately. Very dependable.” ~ Parent
“St. Mary’s helped to stabilize our home.” ~ Parent of School Student
“My son started at Shepherd after witnessing domestic violence and he was also abused. Through his Home Based Clinician, he learned how to respect his mom, help around the house and is working on his relationship with his sister. He is better able to recognize his feelings and can actually control them. He comes to me when he needs help. They created a tool box to help him cope. He has changed greatly over the past two years and without this program I wouldn’t know what to do. His only male influence has been his abuser. He loves his therapist; he treats her like family which I guess she is.” ~ Parent
“I love the fact that the environment here, even when we are dealing with some pretty intense, difficult situations, is always positive, empathetic and encouraging! And everyone here has a sense of humor, which is a great bonus!!!” ~ Care Coordinator
“The Shepherd Program has helped our family by showing us ways to communicate with each other and helped us to understand what each other is going though. It showed us ways to bond with one another. It taught my son and daughter about Good, Bad and Secret touch and about good and bad decisions, ways to deal with everyday issues and non-everyday issues. It’s helped us become a better family all together. We are a closer family…” ~ Parent