Anne Knabel, M.S., Class of 2012
Recent alumna Anne Knabel, M.S., works with young victims of domestic sex trafficking in Washington, DC.
I am currently a master’s level therapist at the Meier Clinic, a Christian Counseling Clinic in Fairfax, VA, and working towards licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). I predominantly work with individual adults suffering from a range of issues related to depression, anxiety, trauma, and relational problems.
This summer I had the opportunity to begin working for Restoration Ministries (RM), a Christian Ministry in Washington, DC that works with victims of domestic sex trafficking.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has found that every year at least 100,000 children in the United States are at risk of being commercially and sexually exploited.
RM goes into the DC youth detention center and the psychiatric hospital, and provides prostitution, intervention and prevention programs for at-risk girls ages 11-17. The girls are brought to the facilities for prostitution, running away from home, self-harm, or suicidal tendencies.
Each week the girls have the opportunity to express themselves through art and craft activities, as well as discuss different topics such as learning how traffickers lure vulnerable young girls into prostitution and how to cope with grief and loss.
The most important part of our work is consistently showing up each week in order to build relationships based on trust and love centered on Christ. We meet the girls where they are, and through this accepting environment, I see them become more and more interested and engaged in our discussions and activities.
They are starved for love and attention and it is painful to think of what they might accept as love because they haven’t experienced the real thing.
Each week I see girls begin to uncross their arms and pull their chairs closer to the table. Cracks in their defensive walls become large enough to allow some of the girls to trust us as we build relationships and share our faith with one another.
Girls begin to allow themselves to be vulnerable and admit they are scared, miss their families, and need help. They ask me to come to their court hearings, and pray for their families, and tell me that they can’t make it on their own.
I have realized there are no easy solutions to ending domestic sex trafficking, but RM seeks to establish long-term relationships with girls so that when they are released from their current facility, they have a place to turn to for help and healing.
If you are interested in learning more about domestic sex trafficking please feel free to contact me through our website. http://www.restorationministriesdc.org/
What brought you to IPS?
Before coming to IPS I attended Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame where I studied Elementary Education and Spanish. After graduating, I moved to Monterrey, Mexico, and taught second and third grade English for several years.
I enjoyed my time teaching, but often my students would come to me with problems such as troubles at home or being bullied by classmates, that had a huge impact on their ability to learn, connect with others and feel secure about themselves.
At times I felt helpless in my ability to guide my students through difficult emotional pain and became more and more interested in working with children and families.
Luckily I had stayed in touch with a friend from college who went to IPS and that compelled me to look into attending the Institute as well.
It was hard to leave Mexico but I remember feeling a sense of peace when I finally made my decision. Looking back, I see that pursuing IPS was a part of God’s plan for me.
Why did you choose to study at IPS?
I was initially drawn to the mission of IPS and their desire to integrate the Catholic faith with psychology to bring about healing in the therapeutic process. However, until I got to IPS, I didn’t fully understand that what I was really searching for was truth.
There are things that are true about the human person that will be true for all time, but most of society, and especially secular psychology, has lost faith in this.
Secular psychology today wants to ignore the transcendent aspect of the human person and reduce people to their behaviors and instincts, all the while undermining natural law and morality.
IPS offers the opportunity to study about the human person as a whole, not the sum of its parts, with the goal of enhancing overall health and wellbeing.
What advice do you have for someone interested in coming to IPS?
As a student at IPS I always had hopeful aspirations of “changing lives” and being used as an instrument of God’s grace to bring hope and healing to the broken and forgotten.
What those of us in the helping professions don’t often consider is that in our attempt to change lives, we will be radically changed ourselves. My time at IPS was one of continued growth, formation, and transformation.
Living out your vocation as a Catholic psychotherapist will not be free of anxiety or pain. For me at least, it has brought me ever closer to Christ and I continually trust in Him for all things.