The role of counselling in healing from sexual assault in childhood from the phenomenological perspective of men and women

Vilenica, Sheryle, Shakespeare-Finch, Jane E., & Obst, Patricia L. (2014) The role of counselling in healing from sexual assault in childhood from the phenomenological perspective of men and women. Psychotherapy in Australia, 20(4), pp. 12-22.


Serious Childhood Sexual Assault (CSA) has the potential for a wide range of extreme difficulties, not only in childhood but for many years to come. However, the lasting negative impacts are not inevitable and with the right help, those who have experienced CSA can go on to enjoy whole and fulfilling lives. The question posed in this research is “What comprises “the right help”? The present study qualitatively investigated the narratives of men and women with regard to what was deemed important components of counselling which facilitated their healing from childhood sexual assault. Participants consisted of 21 women and 11 men who had sought both individual and group counselling to work through issues stemming from traumatic sexual assault in childhood. Findings presented here describe three superordinate themes which were essential in the healing process, incorporating abuse-specific, client-specific and practitioner-specific components. A final superordinate theme of negative experiences in counselling is also presented, describing unhelpful or negative counselling experiences. Similarities between men and women as to the important components of counselling was remarkable, however important gender differences were also observed.

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ID Code: 77890
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: sexual assault, healing, posttraumatic growth, counselling
ISSN: 1323-0921
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Health Clinical and Counselling Psychology (170106)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Deposited On: 21 Oct 2014 00:56
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2015 06:04

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