COUNSELING AND TREATMENT
It should be apparent from the elaboration of the rape trauma syndrome that it is not possible to provide a simplistic approach to the treatment of the rape victim and her family. All recent studies stress the need for immediate availability of crisis counseling for victims, with some indications that continued counseling, either formal or informal, may be necessary for a period of three to twelve months. There seem to be three assumptions regarding counseling about which there is a consensus: 1) Crisis intervention will facilitate working through of the trauma and diminish the likelihood of long-term psychopathological consequences; 2) The victim needs emotional support from whomever she comes in contact in the crisis period; 3) Rape is a crisis for significant other family members and friends who also need emotional support.
These few assumptions, however, may be the only points of agreement in the area of emotional support systems. The report of the Center for Women Policy Studies 1 summarizes the debate over peer counseling versus professional mental health services as follows:
In the instances of drug abuse as well as rape victim counseling, when nonprofessional people began to take specific mental health and societal concerns into their own hands, considerable alarm was registered among mental health professionals. However, many professionals have come to agree that they have developed no special theory of treatment best suited to rape victims, and that it is in the best interest of their profession to participate in what is becoming a rapidly spreading counseling movement.
Although there is consensus that immediate crisis intervention counseling is needed, there is confusion and ambivalence among both professionals and paraprofessionals about the degree of emotional support and counseling required to facilitate a victim's adjustment or prevent the development of psychological or behavioral problems resulting from the rape. The Medical Society of the District of