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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Exploratory Study on Incorporating Sexuality into Therapeutic Work with Child Survivors of Sexual Abuse
by Lanza, Tiffini - Leigh, Ph.D., Widener University, 2020, 323; 28317763
Abstract (Summary)

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a traumatic experience that has life-long consequences if not treated. Mental health professionals (MHPs), including psychologists, clinical social workers, and counselors, can play a critical role in supporting a survivor’s healing journey. While these professionals are trained to support survivors of CSA and the complexities that accompany the traumatic experience of CSA, they do not consider sexuality in their treatment. Sexuality is an important part of the survivor’s experience, functioning, and identity. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate MHPs’ experiences with survivors of CSA in therapy, with special attention to if and how they address sexuality.

This phenomenological study used semi-structured interviews with participants from three disciplines (licensed clinical social work, psychology, and licensed professional counselor). Eighteen MHPs were interviewed about their work with young survivors of CSA. All themes emerged from an analysis of the responses from MHPs regarding their treatment of child survivors of CSA. These themes included the survivor's age as consideration for addressing sexuality in therapy, body image and touch, the necessity of trust, concerns about sexual orientation and gender identity, and the use of brain- and body-focused therapeutic strategies. There were also age and gender considerations related to what subjects MHPs would cover with young survivors of CSA. Many findings were congruent with previous research. This research provides information on the lack of inclusion of sexuality concepts in the therapeutic support of child survivors of CSA. It offers strategies for training MHPs to enhance therapeutic practice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dyson, Don
Commitee: Wyatt, Jeannette , Pillai-Friedman, Sabitha
School: Widener University
Department: Human Sexuality
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 82/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sexuality, Therapy, Mental health, Public health
Keywords: Child Sexual Abuse, Mental Health Professionals, Sexuality, Survivors of child sexual abuse, Treatment modalities
Publication Number: 28317763
ISBN: 9798582533061
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