Program Spotlight: Domestic Violence Clinical Counseling Program




“I hope this program grows into a team of clinical social workers who really understand coercive control, interpersonal violence, and domestic violence. That any victim, survivor, and thriver of domestic violence have access to therapy; otherwise, this violence will persist in our culture and harm those with the least amount of power to speak out and receive life-saving support.” -Marienelly Vazquez, LICSW (she/her/hers), Director of Clinical Services and Community Outreach

Program Spotlight: Domestic Violence Clinical Counseling Program

With the Clinical Counseling Program, social workers offer free talk therapy to participants to bridge the gap to formal support.

Domestic and Interpersonal violence is a national epidemic that impacts 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men. However, it most impacts marginalized communities, such as black, indigenous, and LGBTQIA+ groups of people. These groups are at a much greater risk of violence and consequently have less access to formal support such as the legal, medical, and behavioral health system.

Our clinical counseling program utilizes evidence-based models and frameworks specifically designed for those who have experienced gender-based violence but have little to no access to trauma-informed, culturally specific care.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers on staff work with participants with a holistic approach that incorporates psychoeducation related to:

  • Healthy Relationships
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Skills to manage unhelpful ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills to help regulate intense, negative emotions.
  • Motivational Interviewing to inspire change.
  • Behavioral Activation to assist in managing symptoms of depression.
  • Solution Focused Therapy to shift focus on future goals and aspirations as opposed to past experiences.
  • Mindfulness Skill Development such as mindfulness, meditation, and body-scanning.
  • Grief, Loss, and Bereavement informed counseling.

The program is FREE and available in a multilingual/multicultural capacity, so it’s especially beneficial to undocumented people and people who speak English as their second language. The program is also person-centered and specializes in treating PTSD, Anxiety, and Depressive symptoms related to domestic and interpersonal violence.

After an initial intake, clients can schedule weekly or bi-weekly sessions, with treatment evaluations completed every 3 months. Sessions can be held in-person at YWCA at 1 Salem Square or via telehealth on a secure platform. Participants will need access to a secure device with a reliable Wi-Fi signal in a confidential location.

Participants can be referred from another department within the YWCA Central Massachusetts, such as Domestic Violence Community-Based Services or the Housing and Shelter Department.

For questions regarding the program structure, referral process, or internship opportunities, please get in touch with Marienelly Vazquez, LICSW, directly at 508-767-2505×168 (confidential) or email at (non-confidential).

If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, call our 24-hour helpline 508-755-9030 or visit our 24-hour chatline at


YWCA Elects New Board President, Directors and Officers

Worcester, MA– YWCA Central Massachusetts, the longest-serving agency by, for, and about women and girls in central Massachusetts elected new directors and officers at its 137th annual meeting in June.

Christienne Bik (Shrewsbury) was elected to serve as president of the YWCA’s board of directors. Christie has held various positions on the YWCA’s board of directors for 11 years with increasing roles of responsibility including vice president and president-elect. She also served as a member of the executive committee and chaired the YWCA’s Public Policy Committee. Most recently, Christie served as a tri-chair of the YWCA’s LIVE Capital Campaign, spearheading the fundraising campaign for the YWCA’s $24 million renovations of its Salem Square facility in downtown Worcester.

Christie is director of government affairs and public policy at Fallon Health. In this role, she supports Fallon Health’s business objectives and mission by focusing on strategic public, community, and government relations opportunities. Before Fallon, Christie spent eight years in the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office as an assistant district attorney. Previously, she was a legislative assistant for Congressman James P. McGovern and legislative aide for State Representative Robert Spellane. Christie is a graduate of American University and received her Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association. In 2007, Christie received the Massachusetts District Attorney Association’s Spotlight Award, and in 2014, she was honored with Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty award. Christie also serves on the Boards of the New England Council and the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans.

In her remarks to the YWCA membership, Christie said, “We have accomplished so much here at the YW but our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women is so far from being reached… The YW will continue to advocate for increased funding for early education on the state and federal levels, we will continue to lobby for policies that raise awareness about the negative effects of institutional and structural racism in our communities, and we will continue to fight for all women’s rights, including by not limited for the right to choose her own health care needs.”

Other officers elected to serve a one-year term are Alexizendria Link, president-elect; Monica Thomas-Bonnick, vice president; Kristin Sawash, treasurer; Kristin DeSousa, assistant treasurer; and Amane AbdelJaber, clerk.

Elected to serve a three-year term as members of the YWCA’s board of directors are Patricia Leary of Shrewsbury (MA), Jessica McGarry of Sutton, (MA), vice president/East Region Commercial Lending Team Lead at Country Bank; and Mary Ritchie Murphy of Worcester (MA), clinician at Pathways of Wellness.

Re-elected to serve a three-year term are Amane AbdelJaber of Shrewsbury (MA), program manager, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General; Jeanie Connolly of Princeton (MA), senior vice president and commercial relationship manager at Bay State Savings Bank; Amanda Gregoire of Worcester (MA), vice president of Real Estate Services at MassDevelopment; Monica Thomas-Bonnick of Worcester (MA), vice president, business lending officer at Webster Five and executive director/treasurer at The Webster Five Foundation; and Rubby Wuabu of Worcester (MA), assistant district attorney in the Middle District District Attorney’s Office.

The YWCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Deborah Hall, said “I am honored and excited to have these remarkable women leading the YWCA as we embark on this new chapter, we are ready to move forward with our mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.”