Date of Conferral







Amy Sickel


Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) occurs in up to 9.9 % of the general population. Clinical implications of CSA are lasting and warrant treatment utilizing suitable approaches. Although the developmental psychopathology model encourages clinicians to evaluate disorders in the context of risk/protective factors, cultural issues and development, there is a gap in current research regarding the utilization of developmental theory among clinicians working with this population. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine consistent patterns in treatment practices employed by therapists with CSA patients. The primary research question in this study was to determine how closely therapists' actual treatment practice with CSA females paralleled the developmental psychopathology model. The study utilized a grounded theory approach to generate a model of practice drawn from structured interviews with 20 therapists recruited through a snowballing sample. A sequence of open, axial and selective coding of these data revealed three themes including empowerment, consistency and support. Results indicate most participants were trained in developmental theory and, developed model based skills over time while intuitively utilizing this model and that progressing clients had therapists that utilized this model. Recommendations include required undergraduate training in this model. This information will contribute to the existing literature on developmental theory and, can enhance social change initiatives through increased reliance on therapist intuition which in turn can produce patient care more aligned with developmental needs. In addition this information can be used for the development of effective model based interventions and preventions so as to decrease CSA's harmful societal impact.