Olivia W. Smith, Trauma Therapist

Olivia Smith is a Trauma Therapist with Safe Haven.  Safe Haven Outpatient Counseling provides free counseling to youth ages 6 to 24.  Funded by the Governor’s Crime Commission, Safe Haven provides free outpatient counseling to youth victims of crime.   This often includes victims of physical violence, bullying, sexual assault, rape; mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, or neglect; and youth who have been a witness to domestic violence or local gang violence.

Trauma-Focused Therapy is a specific approach to therapy that recognizes and emphasizes understanding how the traumatic experience impacts a child’s mental, behavioral, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. This type of therapy is rooted in understanding the connection between the trauma experience and the child’s emotional and behavioral responses. The purpose of trauma-focused therapy is to offer skills and strategies to assist your child in better understanding, coping with, processing emotions and memories tied to traumatic experiences, with the end goal of enabling your child to create a healthier and more adaptive meaning of the experience that took place in his/her life. source

Let’s learn more about Olivia!

1. What is your favorite memory from Youth Focus?

Validation in this field is so important since so much of our work is difficult to “measure.” I remember one afternoon I received a text message from a staff member at our Transitional Living Program letting me know that one of the residents came home motivated, inspired, and excited after a session. Knowing I have instilled any amount of hope in the clients I have the pleasure to work with, no matter how small, will always stick with me as memorable and meaningful. These stories are what makes the challenge of the work that much more rewarding.

 2. What is one thing you wish the general public knew about Youth Focus?

We have an awesome staff. One of the reasons I didn’t hesitate about coming on board with this agency is because of the history and culture of the staff. On any given day, I am going to encounter a fellow staff member that makes me laugh, encourages me or provides a different perspective, teaches me something new, and shows me how passionate they are about the clients and families we serve.

3. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

I simply can’t choose one person. I feel like I have literally been raised by a powerful team of influencers that come from so many different fields. There is one person that has mentored me, professionally and personally that comes to mind that reminds me every time I see him that right here, right now, is the only place I need to be. He helps me to continue with the mantra- “Bloom where you are planted.”

4. What led you to Youth Focus and working with young adults?

Before entering the social work field, I have spent much of my life engaging with youth in various settings including working in preschools, working with Upward Bound students during my time in college encouraging their high school academic journeys, and 3 years working in youth and college ministry. I spent a year serving with AmeriCorps VISTA on a sustainable, community-supported farm working with the special needs community and it was this year that ultimately led me to social work.  I was attracted not only to the clinical counseling side but to the advocacy and social justice side. “When a flower does not bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower” (Alexander Den Heijer). It’s just as important to work with our systems as is it is to work with individuals if we want to truly see societal shift and change in the realm of mental and physical health and holistic healing.

5. What are three words to describe Youth Focus?

Informed, empowered, hope-filled.

6. What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Listen up girlfran, people will love you so much more if you can just learn to love yourself and show up as that person, wholly authentic. AND- Older folks (parents, grandparents, that random lady at church that always smiles at you but you think she’s really judging you on the inside) might not see the world the same way you do, but they may actually know a thing or two and have wisdom that MATTERS. Learn to let your guard down and listen. You might really learn a life lesson or two that will make a lot more sense later on.

7. If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring?

I’m never a fan of these questions. Mostly because I would probably tell you 3 completely different things if you asked me tomorrow. Priorities change, am I right? If I was going today, it would be a giant thing of crisp spring water, a yoga mat, and my favorite pillow. (I need good sleep to be able to brainstorm creative ways to get off this island!!!!)

8. What’s your most-used emoji?



Given the current state and local guidelines for COVID-19, Youth Focus has temporarily suspended all on-site visitors and volunteers. This does NOT include clients or those accompanying clients to appointments. Those coming on-site will be asked to wear a mask for the duration of the appointment and limit the number of accompanying guests. Thank you for your understanding and commitment to the safety of our youth and staff.