A qualitative analysis of therapy effectiveness for married female survivors of childhood sexual abuse: from the couple's perspective



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Texas Tech University


Most of the studies which have examined childhood sexual abuse have focused on the impact it can have on an individual's life. Consequently, the traditional modalities for treating adult survivors involve individual and group therapy strategies and interventions. This study is unique in that it explores, from the couple's perspective, the effects of therapy on the system, the marital dyad.

An in-depth interview was conducted with each partner of seventeen couples in which the wife was an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. The participants were asked to describe past therapy experiences in which the issues of childhood sexual abuse were addressed, and then to share their perception of the effectiveness of the therapists and their therapeutic techniques.

Results show that the traditional modalities of individual and group therapy were, for the most part, positive experiences which were helpful in dealing with sex abuse issues. However, the participants of this study expressed a strong desire for more marital therapy as an integrative component of the therapeutic regimen being utilized with married adult survivors. Several issues of particular significance to married adult survivors and their partners, and specific suggestions for improvement, as identified by the participants themselves, are discussed.