Free weekly therapy sessions help residents heal from trauma

CLEVELAND — Wednesday evening, dozens of people gathered at the 4600 block of Euclid in Cleveland, many of them seeking healing from several forms of trauma including gun violence.

Nicole Grady was among the group Wednesday evening, her 9-year-old son Jaymere was the victim of a hit and run in Cleveland’s central neighborhood last week.

“I have to go view his body tomorrow and then lay him to rest May 6 and his father died May 7, 2013,” said Grady. “I’m doing the best I can.”

Walter Patton created the weekly event that he calls “Ghetto Therapy.”

“I used to come out every day into my front yard and see the teddy bear visuals and bottles everywhere, you know how that goes when you go through the city and see all these memorials for death,” said Patton.

Every Wednesday at 6 p.m., Patton brings in four licensed therapists to create a space for his neighbors who hear and see so much to breathe and talk.

“There’s a stigma in our community that people in the inner city, impoverished communities don’t go to therapy, so I thought since we don’t go, how about I bring them here,” Patton added.

Billie Gilliam is one of the four licensed therapists unpacking the trauma.

“The memorials, we get to use to seeing it that we are desensitized to it, it’s just a thing that we drive past,” said Gilliam. “If that becomes something that is normal just as normal as seeing a stop sign, then we are holding on to all of that trauma. We are not processing it, especially in this neighborhood where we see it from block to block, that trauma needs to be processed.”

“My mission is to heal generations of trauma,” said Patton. “We believe that trauma just happens overnight and I was born this way but in reality we weren’t, it comes from generations.”

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