Helping female survivors of childhood sexual abuse develop positive coping, a group intervention

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Beaton-Stokell, Dana
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This practicum involved the creation, implementation, and evaluation of a twelve week group intervention focused on the development of positive coping skills in adult female survivors of childhood sexual abuse who have been impacted by compulsive coping behaviours. Eleven women participated in two groups held at The Laurel Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The group purpose was: to help women who have survived childhood sexual abuse to recognize and honour the adaptive ways in which they coped with the effects of the abuse; to examine these coping behaviours from a cost/benefit perspective, and provide a space for women to choose whether to continue or begin to replace these behaviours; and to explore more positive ways of coping with the effects of the sexual abuse that reflect the goal of the self in balance, including the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of the self. Session topics included creating safety, self-care, emotional protection planning, boundaries, creativity, openness to new things, finding the sacred and accessing joy, and exploring spirituality. Several methods of evaluation were used, including both quantitative and qualitative measures: a weekly standardized self-esteem measure, a weekly positive coping rating scale, a weekly critical incident evaluation log to correspond with the self-esteem and coping measures, ongoing verbal feedback from participants, ongoing clinician process recordings, and a final group feedback form. Overall results of the practicum indicated significant satisfaction with the group experience, with participants meeting group and individual goals of increased self-care, skill-building, and sharing with other women. Other goals were met in a beginning way, including in improvement of self-confidence, increased inner strength, and the recognition and management of patterns.