Abuse-Focused Child Therapy and the Helping Relationship

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This course focuses primarily on understanding the world of the sexually abused child, including the abuse-focused therapy process, and consideration of related experiences that traumatized children experience (physical abuse, sexual exploitation/human trafficking, abusive family dynamics), utilizing the helping relationship as a primary modality. A variety of relationship-based interventions are explored (cognitive and non-cognitive), integrating neurobiological, developmental, cultural, and attachment perspectives. These are balanced against the significant role of the therapist in treatment, drawing from research on mindfulness, self-care, and self-inquiry, and especially considering the therapist's own attachment and resulting response to trauma. Through lectures, experiential learning, case discussion, audio/visual materials, and writing, students will learn to understand abuse as it impacts children, techniques and strategies for intervening with clients, and challenges to treatment, moderated by their experience of themselves as clinicians.