Treating Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Presented by Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, LMFT on 12-03-2021 at 9 a.m. Pacific (noon Eastern) to 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern)

Adult survivors of sexual abuse enter therapy with special needs that challenge some of the traditional therapeutic assumptions. The therapeutic relationship, which is the foundation for treatment with abuse survivors, often must shift in nature and quality to address these needs. The main goal of treatment is the integration of self and affective experience. To help facilitate this process, in this 2-hour continuing education webinar, Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford will outline the establishment and maintenance of an "affective edge" which allows for direct attention to and intervention with the trauma memories and the accompanying affect.

The violations of children's bodies, especially by people that are responsible to provide care for them, protect them, are in positions of affection and authority, create deeply held difficulties with trust, intimacy, and dependency. This traumatization causes profound vulnerability and vigilance which continue into adulthood. To deal with these overwhelming experiences, victims of childhood abuse may numb their bodies and disconnect from the existence, impact, and/or meaning of their histories.

Traditionally, psychotherapy has focused primarily on personality structure and the resulting disturbances in the individual's system of thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. However, in recent years clinicians have also begun to understand the latent implications of childhood sexual abuse and its impact on adult functioning. Entering the tumultuous, dissociated world of the adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse can be intimidating for many clinicians. Mental health professionals must be willing and able to work within the powerful and rapidly shifting relational paradigms of transference and countertransference commonly found in treatment of adult survivors of sexual abuse. Such dual roles enacted in treatment can include:

  • the unseeing, uninvolved parent and the unseen, neglected child
  • the sadistic abuser and the helpless, enraged victim
  • the idealized rescuer and the entitled child
  • the seducer and the seduced

This is the first model for treatment of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse that takes advantage of a relational approach and integrates psychoanalytic thinking with the latest findings from the literature on psychological trauma and sexual abuse.

Clinicians would do well to become familiar with the many ways in which childhood abuse and neglect issues can manifest themselves during clients' treatment. At the same time, they must remain open and ready for any possibility, realizing that disclosure does not always happen as one might expect. All clients need to work at their own pace. This is especially true for those with a history of childhood abuse or neglect, for whom disclosure of the abuse may take years.

This 2-hour introductory continuing education course is designed to help mental health professionals:

  1. Identify the correlation between higher levels of depression, guilt, shame, self-blame, eating disorders, somatic concerns, anxiety, dissociative patterns, repression, denial, sexual problems, and relationship problems.
  2. Discuss the various intervention and prevention efforts that focus understanding and treatment of childhood sexual abuse including evidence of their effectiveness.
  3. Assess and compare the effectiveness of different therapeutic interventions in treating adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
  4. Recognize the manifestations of latent symptoms of childhood sexual abuse across genders.
  5. Determine which interventions are more effective than others in the eligible populations and for specific subgroups of survivors.

Statement of program material’s accuracy, utility, and risks: This program presents a clinical innovation that combines established psychotherapeutic methods such as cognitive restructuring and imaginal exposure with principles and techniques from the field of acupressure. It is consistent with the ethics code of the American Psychological Association and also has its own established code of ethics as developed by the Association of Comprehensive Psychology, an approved CE Sponsor of the APA. Statements about approval or denial of services are according to presenter's understanding of medical necessity and clinical documentation standards at the time of the program. This program discusses strategies for applying the methods taught in a clinically responsible manner, although the presenter may not know how to apply all principles discussed to every situation or person. A body of research surveyed in the program suggests that the methods are effective and safe. As always, however, misapplication of psychotherapeutic interventions with mentally vulnerable populations can lead to harmful outcomes.

Declaration identifying any potential conflict of interest and/or commercial support: None.

If you have any questions or would like information regarding disability accommodations, please contact GoodTherapy here.

Recommended Reading:

  • A House of Smoke and Mirrors: A Story of Family Secrets and Lies (2020) by Annie Berkley

Continuing Education (CE) Information

2 CE contact hours will be provided by GoodTherapy for attending this web conference in its entirety. 

GoodTherapy is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEPTM) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements.

GoodTherapy.org, provider #1352, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. GoodTherapy.org maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 3/30/2019 – 3/30/2022. Social workers completing this course receive 2 clinical continuing education credits.

GoodTherapy is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. GoodTherapy maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

GoodTherapy, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0395. GoodTherapy, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists #MFT-0022 and for licensed mental health counselors #MHC-0031.

To receive CE credit hours for an archived event, you will need to complete a survey as well as a 12 or 15-question exam, verifying that you listened to or watched the event in its entirety. Archived CE events generally are considered "homestudy" by licensing boards.

Registration Information

Premium and Pro Membership with GoodTherapy includes access to this web conference at no additional cost, as well as other member benefits such as a profile listing in GoodTherapy's Therapist Directory. Not yet a member? Sign up for a Premium or Pro Membership, here.

Just want CE credits? Sign up for a monthly or annual CE Subscription with GoodTherapy to get unlimited access to our CE Program, including this event, other live CE web conferences, and hundreds of hours of homestudy courses.

Mental health professionals who are not members can attend this live web conference for $29.95 or access the homestudy recording for $14.95. Sign up here to purchase this CE course and earn a CE certificate.

If the event is canceled by GoodTherapy, registrants who purchased the event will be notified and the charge for the event will be refunded

If you have any questions or would like information regarding disability accommodations, please contact us.

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Meet the Presenter

Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, LMFT

Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, LMFT

Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford is the CEO and Founder of Family Matters Counseling located in Raleigh, North Carolina and Orlando, Florida. She has engaged in extensive work and research on familial relationships, family trauma, and dysfunctions. She is known for her work with traumatic experience and symptom re-emergence.

With nearly 20 years in the field of behavioral sciences, she has been instrumental in her work with stabilizing families, helping individuals and families navigate the challenges of mental illness, as well as victims of abuse/ trauma, reprocess the memory of the trauma in a manners that no longer paralyzes nor interferes with daily functioning.

Dr. Bates-Duford is a NAMI-Wake County board member, a content expert reviewer for the Journal of Family Psychology, serving as a micro-expressions expert for large retailer Zulily regarding the psychology of planning, and serves as an active mentor for APA LGBTQI Doctoral candidates.

Continuing Education Provider Approvals

  • aceGoodTherapy.org is Approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. GoodTherapy.org maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • Logo GoodTherapy.org has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6380. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. GoodTherapy.org is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • aceGoodTherapy.org, provider #1352, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. GoodTherapy.org maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 03/30/2019 - 03/30/2022.
  • GoodTherapy.org, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0395.
  • GoodTherapy.org, LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists #MFT-0022 and for licensed mental health counselors #MHC-0031.

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