Healing, and the belief we can heal ourselves, and the decisions to move toward healing are all radical acts which transform us in and of themselves…because by the process of caring for ourselves, we become more and more ourselves.
Susan Griffin (1979),
Rape: the power of consciousness
The purpose of this chapter is to review how treatment can best respond to the child survivors of sexual abuse. Goals of treatment, principles of intervention in response to specific traumas, and various methodologies or tools of practice will be considered. As well, different therapeutic philosophies will be reviewed. Although the focus of this chapter is the child, it must also be remembered that many children do not receive treatment for the traumas that child sexual abuse involves, during their childhood years. These principles of healing are equally relevant for ‘the hurting child’ who may still be part of the adult personality.
Giarretto (1976) identifies the four goals of therapy for child sexual abuse victims as emotional catharsis, confrontation, self-identification, and self-management. Each of these will be briefly explained.
Emotional catharsis is the process of releasing pent-up emotional energy. ‘Feelings of despair, shame, and guilt must be listened to with compassion, as natural expressions of inner