Working with survivors of childhood sexual abuse

A transformative seminar exploring the nature and dynamics of CSA, complex trauma and its impact on the individual. Using illustrative case examples, the seminar will present a range of essential therapeutic skills for working safely with survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Uncovering the impact on practitioners working with survivors of CSA, while learning strategies to minimise vicarious traumatisation.

Current research indicates that only 1 in 8 survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) report their abusive experiences, often years later. For practitioners, providing effective therapy becomes challenging when both survivors and therapists are not able to recognise the link between a range of mental and physical health issues and a history of CSA such as emotional dysregulation, dissociation, chronic shame, identity confusion, addictions, self-harm and suicidal ideation, compulsive disorders, compromised sexuality as well as relational difficulties, personality changes,  persistent somatic complaints, chronic pain, autoimmune disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The danger of not being able to identify the relationship between CSA and presenting symptoms is that CSA remains undetected, which can lead to misinterpretation and misdiagnosis. It is critical that practitioners in a wide range of mental and physical health settings have a good understanding of the impact and long term effects of CSA and how this manifests in a range of clinical settings so that they are able to respond appropriately.

To effectively work with the clinical challenges in such presentations, as practitioners, we need to know therapeutic techniques that utilize both top-down and bottom-up processing; non-verbal approaches including art and play therapies; and stabilisation techniques that enable survivors to live in the present rather than be catapulted into the traumatic past.

Using illustrative case examples, the seminar will present a range of skills that facilitate right-brain engagement while emphasising the importance of the therapeutic relationship to build shame resilience and facilitate post-traumatic growth. The seminar will also examine the impact of working with survivors on practitioners and explain how we can minimise vicarious traumatisation and secondary traumatic stress through counsellor self-care. In identifying a range of therapeutic skills and the challenges of working with survivors of CSA, practitioners will feel more equipped when working with survivors and appreciate the transformative effects of post traumatic growth for both client and practitioner.

The focus will be on understanding the nature and dynamics of CSA and complex trauma and its impact on the individual. The challenges of assessing for CSA  will be highlighted, including obstacles to disclosure, mis-diagnosis and co-morbidity, and the need for obstacle for collaborative case formulation. In addition, the training will emphasise best practice when working with survivors of CSA which incorporates the Power Threat Meaning Framework and Trauma Informed Practice that acts as a scaffold to support practitioners preferred therapeutic modality, and how to pace the therapeutic work  through a phased oriented approach which promotes stabilisation, processing, integration and justice within a collaborative and non-hierarchical therapeutic relationship. The goal in considering these therapeutic techniques is to reduce the replication of power, control and shame dynamics that are often axiomatic in CSA and complex trauma, and increase awareness of co-creation and management of therapeutic impasse in order minimise shame, re-traumatisation and epistemic injustice.

This training, which would be especially relevant for psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists, aims to enhance our comprehension of CSA, its impact and long term effects on survivors, in order to  process the trauma and enter post-traumatic growth.

  • Professionals include psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, social workers, nurses, legal professionals, and police.
  • Students👩‍🎓- In Psychology, psychiatry, social work, nursing, criminology, and law.

Friday 22nd March 2024 from 08:45 am to 4:30 pm at the Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan, Santa Venera. Click here for the Location on Google Maps.

More Information

Christiane Sanderson is a former senior lecturer in Psychology at the University of Roehampton, of London with 30 years of experience working in the field of childhood sexual abuse, sexual violence and complex trauma. She has delivered advice and training for parents, teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists, counsellors, the police and faith communities. Her research interests span trauma informed therapeutic practice, PTSD, Complex Trauma, CSA, domestic abuse and Narcissism. She is the author of Working with Survivors of Sibling Sexual Abuse: A Guide to Therapeutic Support and Protection for Children and Adults; Counselling Skills for Working with Shame, Counselling Skills for Working with Trauma: Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse, Counselling Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 3rd edition, Counselling Survivors of Domestic Abuse, The Seduction of Children: Empowering Parents and Teachers to Protect Children from Child Sexual Abuse, and Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Interpersonal Trauma, all published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. She has also written The Warrior Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Sexual Violence; The Spirit Within: A One in Four Handbook to Aid Recovery from Religious Sexual Abuse Across All Faiths and Responding to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: A pocket guide for professionals, partners, families and friends for the charity One in Four for whom she is a trustee.
Willingness Team – a team of over 65 professionals who come together to create innovative services and ideas, such as Sex Clinic Malta, Dating101 workshops. Willingness Team offers support through the Trauma Clinic, which provides evidence-based psychological therapies from experienced professionals in the field of Trauma. It caters to clients who experience difficulties related to PTSD and complex trauma.

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