On October 26, 2016, Kimberly Thomas won the Wednesday Journal’s Elevator Pitch Competition for her pitch centered on her work at Deer Rehabilitation Services. Dr. Thomas, a licensed clinical professional counselor, is Vice President of Programs and Clinical Services at Deer Rehabilitation Services.  Through her pitch, Thomas focused on the work Deer Rehabilitation Services is doing to curb community violence in Chicago’s disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Deer Rehabilitation Services was founded in 2000 by Dr. Dennis Deer in an effort to fill the gap in the area of individual, couples and group counseling in the North Lawndale community. Since that time, the mission of the Deer Rehabilitation Services has expanded to include a variety of counseling programs as well as training programs for businesses, schools and social service organizations.

Now with three offices in Chicago’s West Side, South Loop and in the western suburb of Riverside, Deer Rehabilitation provides individual and couples counseling, domestic violence counseling, addiction counseling and is a level one outpatient facility that addresses violence issues stemming from alcohol and narcotics abuse.

Deer Rehabilitation Services is licensed by the State of Illinois Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA) to provide Driving Under the Influence (DUI) evaluations, Risk Education Classes, and Alcohol and other drug treatment classes.

Through domestic violence counseling. Deer Rehabilitation Services also caters to and provides the tools for perpetrators of domestic violence to live non-violently. Through general counseling services, Deer Rehabilitation Services works with clients who need counseling for marital issues, grief, anxiety, anger management, depression, diversity awareness or stress management.

Dr. Thomas notes that while many of Deer Rehabilitation Services’ clients are mandated to seek mental health care, Deer Rehabilitation Services is working hard to expand its offerings to provide prevention and solutions to communities facing violence.

Recent efforts include prevention and intervention efforts for at-risk youth populations. Dr. Thomas notes that she is working to bring training programs to schools that have high suspension rates and where students are considered at high risk for violence.

Two recent programs include the Young Men’s Society and Girls in Real Life Situations (GIRLS.) She says of the two in-school programs, “Both are aimed at issues arising from self-esteem, dating, aggression, social emotional skills and interpersonal development.”

Calling the training programs a collaborative effort between teachers, parents, and administrators, she says that the hope is to end violence by giving youth the training they need to develop healthy social emotional skills. “The training centers on a theme, with a minimum of twelve weeks per theme. Themes can vary from anger management to relationship communications to aggression in relationships. Each involves weekly meetings in the schools with our trained clinicians.”

Thomas hopes that by bringing these services to communities in need, the tide of violence can be turned, and she believes that giving adolescents the chance to change their path is a step in the right direction.

Deer Rehabilitation Services accepts Medicaid and some private insurances.  For more information on Deer Rehabilitation Services, visit www.deerehabservices.com or call 773.826.0398.

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