Group work with adult female survivors of childhood sexual abuse utilizing an empowerment model of intervention

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Carnegie, Debra V.
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Treatment of survivors is a complex enterprise, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of the traumagenic dynamics inherent in childhood sexual abuse. The following practicum incorporated an abuse focused group intervention with the principles of the feminist perspective in empowerment of survivors through an analysis of the micro, mezzo and macro context of their experience. Five instruments were utilized to determine effectiveness of the intervention in alleviating psychological distress arising from childhood sexual abuse experiences, the reduction of the subjective experience of trauma arising from the impact of the abuse, the elevation of self-esteem, and the development of social support. A quasi experimental research design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention with two groups. The group process involved three stages of intervention, including: a cognitive component, an affective component, and a skills development component. Statistically significant results were obtained in the reduction of psychological sequel of childhood sexual abuse across nine of the ten clinical scales of the Trauma Symptom Index (Briere, 1995). Statistical significance was attained in the reduction of psychological symptoms on five of nine clinical scales of the SCL-90-R (Derogatis, 1993). The intervention was able to reduce the traumatic impact of abuse as demonstrated by the results obtained across both dimensions of the Impact of Events Scale (Horowitz, 1979). Further the intervention raised the self-esteem of the members as measured by the Index of Self-Esteem (Hudson, 1982).