Date of Conferral







Sharon Xuereb


Childhood abuse can impact the survivors' life in many ways. Children learn various skills from their caregivers, such as the tools needed to develop and maintain healthy relationships. When a child is abused by their caregiver, there can be a drastic impact on how the child perceives the world, and the therapeutic relationship is important in the healing process. This interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) study explored the lived experiences of therapists who work with adult women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse to better understand the effects that childhood sexual abuse has on the therapeutic relationship. The theoretical base for the study was attachment theory that was conceptualized within a traumatic framework. Participants were recruited through online media forums and with the use of flyers posted at local counseling offices in the metro area of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Eight therapists who self-identified as meeting the criteria for this study were recruited and interviewed in-person; the data was analyzed by hand. Five themes emerged during the analysis: the enhancing effects of disclosure, seeking to empower clients, the client's emotional distress, negative feelings and loss of self, and ability to maintain boundaries. This study contributes to provide avenues for social change by developing awareness and education resources for therapists to increase their effectiveness of treatment and develop ways in which support can be employed to serve the affected population through education and rapport building. This in turn has the potential of increasing successful treatment outcomes, which allows clients to build better external positive, healthy relationships.