Safe Space: WILA + WIF Women’s Initiative

Women in Film has partnered with WILA to launch an entertainment industry-specific support group for survivors of sexual harassment. Together, we’re ensuring women at all levels of the industry are supported.

Since October 2017, growing attention has been focused on the stories of countless allegations of sexual harassment perpetrated in the entertainment industry. In response, Women In Film launched a Sexual Harassment Help Line — an integrated program to refer survivors of harassment to attorneys, designated mental health counselors, and law enforcement professionals.

The WIF Help Line partnered with Wright Institute Los Angeles to offer an important resource to survivors, particularly those who cannot afford expensive private treatment or who have inadequate insurance coverage. “Safe Space” is a free and confidential support group for women in the entertainment industry who have experienced sexual harassment, facilitated by therapists who specialize in empowering survivors of trauma and abuse.

About The Groups

Groups meet weekly for five consecutive weeks.

Location: WILA’s center in West LA
11845 West Olympic Blvd., Suite 505W
Los Angeles, CA 90064 [map]

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Will you fund this initiative to help women heal?

Our Team

Marcia Nimmer, LCSW, Psy.D.
Group Supervisor

Marcia is a clinical psychologist and licensed clinical social worker. She received her doctorate from Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she specialized in depth psychology. Marcia is the author of Finding Meaning in Later Life​, an exploration into how the second half of life holds hidden gifts and treasures. She is known for her warmth and intuitive style. As a clinician, she enables individuals of all ages to make emotional contact with their authentic inner experience, allowing for growth and transformation.

Ilana Bar-Din Giannini, LCSW
Safe Space Founder & Group Therapies Program Director

“After 20 years working as a professional writer, my decision to train as a psychotherapist came from a strong sense of personal optimism: I believe that people can write -- and change -- their own stories. With the right help and support, even traumatic stories can be reworked and lives reimagined. Social work underscored my sense that we heal best if gently moved from a place of isolation to a place of supportive understanding."

Katherine Smith, LMFT, Psy.D.
Group Supervisor

Katherine is an LMFT with a doctorate from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She believes therapy is more than just overcoming life’s challenges – it is an opportunity for you to explore and create a new relationship to your self. Katherine approaches therapy with kindness, compassion, and humor. She has worked with individuals and couples of diverse backgrounds, sexual orientations, mental health concerns, and integrates social justice and feminist perspectives in her approach to therapy.

Michele Gomes, Psy.D.
Safe Space Co-Founder & WILA Executive Director

Frequently Asked Qs

Who can join Safe Space?
Safe Space is for women of all ages and backgrounds who work/have worked in the entertainment industry in any capacity and have experienced any form of workplace sexual harassment, discrimination, or abuse.
What happens in group?
Each of the five sessions is centered on a topic. The facilitators will briefly introduce and educate members on the topic, followed by a group discussion and space to give and receive support. Group topics will include:

  • Confidentiality, group respect
  • Safety: how to reinstate & maintain a sense of safety
  • Sharing your story while maintaining privacy and boundaries
  • From a psychological standpoint: What is harassment? What is assault? What is trauma?
  • Recognizing symptoms and their connections to the event(s)
  • Triggers
  • Resourcing & referrals for ongoing support
Is this group confidential?
Yes. Confidentiality – knowing that what you talk about in group will not leave the room – is the cornerstone of therapy. In all forms of therapy, there are some exceptions to confidentiality and it is important that you know about them. You will receive an Informed Consent document with detailed explanations. In some specific situations, the group facilitators can disclose your private information without your consent. Common exceptions to Confidentiality include:

  • To protect you or the public from serious harm — if, for example, you discuss intent and plans to attempt suicide or harm another person.
  • We are required to report ongoing abuse or neglect of children, the elderly or dependent adults (people with disabilities). However, if an adult discloses that he or she was abused as a child, we typically aren’t bound to report that abuse, unless there are other children continuing to be abused.
  • We may release information if we receive a court order. That might happen if a person’s mental health came into question during legal proceedings.
Do I have to already be in individual therapy to join the group?
No, it is not required that you be in individual therapy before beginning the group. However, group work can activate strong emotions and memories. Some of this can be processed in a group setting, but depending on the intensity of one’s experiences, we may suggest or even require group participants to engage in their own individual therapy for additional support. In such a case, the group facilitators will help you find an individual therapist at WILA (if you require a reduced fee) or provide you with another appropriate referral.
What's the process to join the group?

Contact WILA at 424-371-5191 or email and one of our therapists will contact you to do a brief (10 minute) screening call. Each person is carefully screened for appropriate fit by the group facilitators and group supervisors. If it is determined that you may not be a good fit for the group, you will be offered appropriate referrals.

Will I have to share details about what happened to me?
As a part of the screening call and the first group meeting, each participant will be asked to share her reasons for interest in the group. However, we encourage and regularly remind each participant that she has the right to provide as much or as little detail as she is comfortable sharing.
Will I be required to name my perpetrator(s)?
No. Participants will only be asked to share information that they are comfortable sharing, in as much or as little detail as they choose. In fact, during the 1st group meeting, we will discuss confidentiality, safety, and the psychological risks and benefits of sharing what has happened to you.
Is the group really free?
Yes. There is no cost to participants for the entire 5 week group experience. WILA recognizes that providing accessible mental health support services will make an impact on the community’s ability to heal and grow in the face of individual and collective trauma.
Who will be facilitating the Safe Space groups?

Safe Space groups are facilitated by pre-licensed therapists enrolled in WILA’s Psychology Internship and Postgraduate Fellowship. The facilitators are supervised by licensed mental health professionals on WILA’s Teaching and Supervising Faculty with input from WILA’s Executive Director, Michele Gomes, Psy.D.

Where do the Safe Space groups take place?

Due to COVID-19, Safe Space groups are conducted virtually online. Otherwise, Safe Space groups take place at our West Los Angeles location which provides a safe, comfortable, accessible, and confidential atmosphere. We are conveniently located at 11845 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 505W, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Ample street parking is available nearby.

What is WILA’s mission?
The mission of Wright Institute Los Angeles (WILA) is to keep high quality, long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy available and affordable. WILA is an affordable alternative for those without adequate health insurance benefits or the ability to pay for expensive private treatment. We remain one of the very few settings in Los Angeles where no limits are placed on treatment length or session frequency. Our aim is to help the individuals, couples, and families we serve lead richer, deeper, more fulfilling lives.