Partner Profile: Journey to Healing takes holistic approach to trauma and grief 

Source: Public Affairs

Shardaya Fuquay

Shardaya Fuquay attended grief support group meetings after the unexpected death of her brother in 2014.

She was hoping to find comfort and encouragement. However, she sometimes left the meetings feeling, “uncharged,” defeated and overwhelmed. “It was nice, but it just wasn’t beneficial for me,” she said.

That experience prompted Fuquay, a certified clinical trauma practitioner with a background in special education, to found Journey to Healing in 2017. The nonprofit organization headquartered in Detroit uses a holistic approach to help people work through trauma and grief.  

Last year, Journey to Healing served more than 500 children and adults through partnerships with organizations such as the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency and COTS emergency family shelter.  It also provided free clinical therapy services to 40 families, created opportunities for greater access to healthcare education, and provided free and low-cost behavioral health community programs to disadvantaged families.

In 2021, Journey to Healing was one of four organizations to receive $10,000 in funding and technical support from U-M Poverty Solutions as part of an economic mobility initiative aimed at preventing and alleviating poverty through action-based research.

Please introduce us to Journey to Healing and how it serves the community.

Our agency provides psycho-educational services and clinical treatment for people who’ve experienced trauma related to grief, loss and everyday life experiences. We look at things holistically. For instance, if a child’s parents divorced, that child could be experiencing grief over losing a parent. You and I can pull out our phones and pull up something on the internet, and we could be traumatized by what’s going on in Israel, we could be traumatized by what we see on Tik Tok or Facebook. We can be driving down the street and smell a scent and it brings us back to where we were before. That’s why we do the work that we do – it’s needed. There are people suffering in silence.

We provide access to care, we bring in different speakers, we provide proactive wellness groups where we talk about coping strategies, breathing techniques, taking nature walks and finding other ways to grow through your grief. People call me and want me to tell them that they will get over it (grief) one day. They will never get over it. But you deserve to have that moment where you can breathe, and you inhale and you exhale. With our strategies, we will show you how to grow through your difficult life experiences.  

What is some of the work you’ve done in partnership with U-M?

We had a student from U-M who was able to support our agency on data collection. We have a focus group every February where we assess the needs of the community. When we’re going to get someone therapy, we have a patient health questionnaire. Because of the data collected as part of the community needs assessment, we now include a PHQ9, which is a form that can be used to help screen for depression. We previously had an assessment, but it did not go over those particular details.

What do you value most about your partnerships with U-M?

We had the privilege of collaborating with the University of Michigan, which provided us with valuable data and evidence-based measures. As a result, we were able to conduct additional focus groups. It was wonderful to gain the data piece. It gave us insight for how we can continue to support the community. It also enhanced the capacity of the agency and helped us see what areas we could fix strategically.  

What advice would you give to other organizations interested in partnering with the university?

Come in with a clear scope of what you’re hoping to accomplish. We had an idea already of what we wanted to work on with them, and they were able to support us. 

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