Child and adolescent victims of sexual abuse are crime victims that must also contend with elements of the social service and legal system during a time of tremendous confusion and vulnerability. Parents and caregivers of child sexual abuse victims often experience their own distress as a result of their awareness of the trauma that has occurred. At NEOBH, interventions are directed toward both the child/adolescent victim and the family system. It is our belief that the child/adolescent victim requires special support, and that support and education provided to caregivers can often help mobilize strengths that exist within the family system.
Intervention with child/adolescent sexual abuse victims frequently begins with a specialized assessment. At NEOBH, this evaluation is conducted by a clinician with expertise in forensic interviewing techniques. During the evaluation process, the child/adolescent is afforded an opportunity to “tell their story” in a supportive therapeutic atmosphere. An assessment of the mental health status of the child/adolescent is conducted during the evaluation process. At the conclusion, recommendations are made regarding further treatment needs and diagnostic concerns. An assessment report is frequently requested by either social services or the prosecutor, so that the data collected during the evaluation can be given additional consideration by the legal system.
Nevertheless, the evaluation of a child/adolescent who presents with allegations regarding sexual abuse is part of a diagnostic process that is centered on the present and future needs of the child. Following the completion of the evaluation, the child/adolescent may be referred to additional treatment services that are available at NEOBH. Treatment of child/adolescent victims is conducted with an emphasis on Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (TF-CBT) methods. TF-CBT is considered a “Best Practice” technique for victims of sexual abuse and other traumas. TF-CBT includes a family component, as well as an emphasis on parent consultation, so that the needs of the child’s support system can be addressed.