Sidney Turner’s own experiences with trauma and the mental health challenges that stem from it inspired her career as a psychologist and researcher. It also led to the founding of Sarasota nonprofit Resilient Retreat, which provides free, evidence-based online and in-person programs for adult survivors of trauma and abuse.
“Trauma is really connected to pretty much every mental health disorder,” says Turner. “But the thing that inspires me the most is that healing is always possible. No matter what age you are, no matter how severe your symptoms are, there is always hope for a better tomorrow.”
The process can be difficult, but it can also provide rewards. “I feel like some of my biggest learning opportunities in my life have come from my biggest struggles,” she says. “Just learning that you can persevere and really gaining a sense of purpose and meaning from my experiences has been a driving force in my own personal life. And I’ve witnessed that in people I’ve worked with who’ve experienced trauma. Going through their biggest challenges in life have often left them with more meaning and more value to their lives and more appreciation for every day.”
Turner is willing to share her own struggles and experiences to raise awareness and destigmatize the issue. “Trauma is part of the human condition,” she says. “I think it’s about sharing our stories and sharing them unapologetically. For me as a psychologist sharing that I struggle with PTSD — that doesn’t discredit my professionalism. That just shows that I understand the pain that the people we serve are going through. We need to come forward and share our stories, so people know they’re not alone and they’re not broken and damaged.”
As Resilient Retreat continues to grow, Turner draws from the guidance she received from her mentor, the late Jim Roque, a Sarasota wealth advisor and supporter of Resilient Retreat. “He was just such a huge inspiration for me in terms of what is possible when we come together to make our community a better place,” she says.
To deal with the heaviness of both her career and life, Turner has found several pursuits that help lighten her load. “I am an avid dancer,” she says. “It not only helps heal my PTSD, but it also prevents me from having mental health challenges with the work I do every day. It just fills my soul and makes me happy. I’m also an avid crafter and have a bunch of pets that keep me busy and also laughing all day long.”