Living, surviving & thriving, using a blend of feminist and solution-oriented perspectives in a group for adult women sexually abused as children

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Regehr, Chyrisse Lee
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As more individuals come forward to report their experiences of childhood sexual abuse, Social Workers are under increasing pressure to find effective, non-intrusive and efficient methods to assist the survivors cope with the negative after effects. While feminist therapists have done much of the pioneering work in this area, there is now some concern that aspects of this approach may unwittingly contribute to the development of a "survivor" identity that may inhibit the individual's ability to live a healthy and satisfying life; yet, other treatment modalities lack the analysis of power and gender that feminism brings to the work. The purpose of this practicum is to develop a model for group treatment based on a blending of solution-oriented and feminist perspectives and evaluate its helpfulness with childhood sexual abuse issues. The author facilitated a 16 week therapeutic group for adult women who had experienced childhood sexual abuse. The group met in a community-based counselling agency setting, once per week for two and one-half hours each meeting. Group members completed pre and post group measures, feedback forms at midpoint and endpoint of group, and participated in a follow-up telephone survey six to eight weeks following the completion of group. The analysis of the information obtained from women participating in group indicated a high level of satisfaction with the service received and indicated that the group members experienced certain blended interventions and exercises as very helpful. Therapist perceptions of the ease of use of the blended model were also favorable. The researcher is of the opinion that solution-oriented and feminist approaches are highly complementary, and that a blending of the two is very effective in a group setting with adults who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. The researcher recommends further exploration into the development of interventions based on a blending of the two models.