Crothers honors counselor with major gift

Dr. Marti Crothers & Dr. Janet Coffman
Dr. Marti Crothers & Dr. Janet Coffman

Coffman-Crothers endowment will focus on complex trauma training

By Jeff Wilson

When Dr. Marti Crothers decided to see a therapist in the 1980s, she had no idea the impact it would have on her life.

Living in Southern Illinois and working as a counselor, it was difficult to find someone she didn’t already know. That’s why she chose someone new to the area, Dr. Janet Coffman.

Now, decades later, Dr. Crothers has made a gift of more than $1 million to honor Dr. Coffman and the treatment she provided. Her planned gift will establish the Coffman-Crothers Training Institute for Trauma and Psychological Health Endowment Fund.

“This training institute is in honor of Dr. Coffman. It is in recognition of her commitment and dedication to the treatment of victims, including myself, of complex trauma,” Dr. Crothers said. “Her skill, care, and compassion gave me the courage to become a survivor and to live a worthwhile life. This institute reflects my gratitude to her. It is dedicated to Dr. Coffman for all the lives she touched and saved.”

The institute will be in the SIU Clinical Center and will train students, faculty, and staff in psychology and counseling and community professionals in intensive treatment methods to assist clients suffering from complex trauma and dissociation. Complex trauma describes children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events and the long-term effects of these events, usually tied to abuse or profound neglect.

Dr. Coffman is the retired director of the Counseling and Psychological Services at SIU. Dr. Crothers is the former assistant coordinator of Literacy Connection at John A. Logan College. She was also a senior lecturer in counselor education and supervision.

Dr. Crothers originally came to Southern Illinois after growing up in Wisconsin and Kentucky. As a lover of the outdoors and an avid fox hunter, the natural beauty and horse-riding opportunities appealed to her. Coming to SIU in 1969, she studied recreation and worked under Dr. Bill Freeberg, one of the co-founders of the Special Olympics. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 1973 and a master’s in educational psychology in 1978. Later, she returned to SIU to earn her Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision in 1998.

“Dr. Coffman showed me that I had something to offer,” she said. “Many of the things I learned from her, especially as it pertains to self-care, I was able to pass on to my students.”

By establishing the Coffman Crothers Endowment, Dr. Crothers will train professionals to provide comprehensive treatment of people who are dealing with complex trauma as adults. She will be actively involved with the training institute for as long as possible, especially in the initial stages.

“There are adults out there everywhere in need of assistance,” she said. “I wish I had $10 million to give. I want this to be something the whole region can access.”

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