Review of Creative and Traditional Therapies for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Gillard, Cierra S.
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The detrimental effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) profoundly impact the lives of the victims, their families, and society as a whole. Symptoms related to CSA are many and can be measured with a variety of tests. These symptoms include low self-esteem, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, somatization, dissociation, anxiety, among others. Sexual abuse frequently breaks up or distances families, and victims often contribute to the cycle of abuse (either by choosing an abusive spouse or abusing their own children) as adults. Childhood sexual abuse is a serious issue in the United States and abroad and must be addressed. This review of literature analyzes the history, the advantages and disadvantages, and the measures used in therapies that target CSA survivors. There are two broad therapy types: traditional and creative therapies. Of the traditional therapies, this review will discuss cognitive behavior therapy, including cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure, and cognitive behavior processing. Although cognitive behavior therapies have been very effective with adult survivors of CSA, children and certain individuals may be better aided by a less verbal approach to therapy. Of the creative therapies, a brief review of art therapy and a more extensive review of dance therapy are presented. With the use of metaphor in both therapies, and especially the body in dance therapy, those with underdeveloped or stunted cognitive and/or verbal abilities may be more effectively treated with the creative therapies. After examining studies and articles comparing these therapy types, weaknesses and opportunities for further research is discussed.