Women who have survived childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are at increased risk for many negative psychological problems. Survivors have higher rates of anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress (PTSD), sexual dysfunction, and negative self-esteem than people with no history of CSA. Therapy designed to help these vulnerable women provides strategies for learning healthy coping techniques and cognitive behaviors. Group therapy is especially beneficial for women who have survived CSA because it gives them the opportunity to share their experiences with others who can relate to their trauma. Group sessions have been shown to dramatically reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Additionally, women who participate in group therapy for CSA demonstrate improved self-esteem and lower levels of shame and guilt than those who do not participate in group sessions.
Although there have been many studies assessing the effectiveness of group therapy for CSA, few have looked at how the duration and intensity of the sessions impact the outcome. In an effort to discover how length of therapy affects symptom severity, Dr. Maryhelen Kreidler, professor of Nursing at the College of Nursing at the University of Akron in Ohio recently led a study that analyzed the psychological outcomes of women who underwent 6 months of group therapy compared to women who received 12 months of group therapy. Each group met once a week for 2 hours, and all the participants had experienced several years of CSA that began when they were 6 years old.
Kreidler discovered that the women from the 6-month group had greater gains than those in the longer treatment group. This suggests that more intense and focused therapy provides more benefits to women who have survived CSA. Kreidler said, “The current study appears to be the first study to suggest that the shorter, more intensive therapy is actually better in producing positive outcomes.” Shorter therapy duration could minimize the opportunity for women to withdraw, escape, and avoid their emotions. In other words, women who receive more intense treatment may not have the chance to move away from treatment techniques and fall back into maladaptive coping strategies. Kreidler believes that these findings could help therapists design more effective interventions for women who have survived CSA.
Kreidler, M., Einsporn, R. (2012). A comparative study of therapy duration for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 50.4, 26-32.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.