Counselors and Psychologists

Children who have been sexually abused will initially be interviewed by law enforcement and a social services agency, or, if the community has a Child Abuse Assessment Center or team of collaborative agencies, by one forensic interviewer trained in sexual abuse interviewing skills. conducting the evaluation. A referral will be made for the child to engage in ongoing services with a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional. This person will conduct an assessment to determine psychological and other negative effects of the abuse and provide therapy. Counseling professionals with specialization in child therapy and specialization in child abuse are recommended. Funds are usually available through victim services to pay for counseling. 

If a Criminal Trial occurs, the child's therapist may be asked to testify in court regarding  the child's disclosure of sexual abuse, perception of child's honesty in reporting, and consequences of the abuse. Debate is ongoing child abuse issues in divorce cases. An opinion exists, although it is not supported by statistics, that parents and children often fabricate/falsely accuse a parent during divorce proceedings in order to gain custody of the child or children. This is rarely the case. Children almost never lie about abuse. Disclosure is a stressful, difficult, and embarrassing event, and the investigation process usually invasive and painful. Children far more often recant and later deny the initial abuse report because of feelings elicited by the investigation. It is important that the mental health professional you choose for your child is trained in sexual abuse, symptoms, effects, and consequences. Sometimes the child has partially disclosed, and additional details of the abuse are needed for prosecution to proceed with a criminal case. This information often flows naturally out of relaxed therapeutic sessions with a trained professional. Play therapy is often used during sessions. (e.g., toys, art mediums, doll houses). 

Child abuse victims display symptoms of distress. Some of the short term effects of sexual abuse are emotional problems, behavioral problems, somatic symptoms, lowered self-esteem, and inappropriate sexual behaviorsLong term consequences include emotional and psychological problems, cognitive distortions, behaviors, problems in relationships, PTSD, dissociation, health effects, addictions, and inappropriate sexual behaviors. These issues can be addressed in therapeutic sessions. A therapist can teach coping skills, anger management, cognitive restructuring, resilience, and self-protection. Child victims will benefit from individual counseling. However, dyadic (mother-daughter), family, and group therapy are recommended therapeutic modalities. 

It is recommended that the mother, siblings, and other family members affected by the abuse also engage in therapeutic services. Mothers will benefit from ongoing individual counseling to address grief and emotional effects resulting from the abuse disclosure and continued stress related to the abuse. A therapist can provide a sounding board to the mother as she makes decisions regarding herself, child, and siblings. Mothers may also benefit from anger management and coping skills, assertiveness, and communication skills training. If the abuser is the victim's father or mother's partner, and if reunification is being considered, it is important that all family members engage in counseling at a sex offender treatment clinic or site providing varied counseling services. Safety, emergency planning, rules and guidelines, and open and honest communication regarding the abuse and its consequences are necessary prior to the consideration of reunification. 



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