Date of Conferral
Counselor Education and Supervision
The lack of understanding of the experience of disclosure to mental health professionals for adult male survivors of child sexual abuse means that counseling assessment instruments and diagnostic criteria are problematic and may contribute to counselors inadvertently perpetuating social stereotypes that prevent disclosure. The purpose of this study is to understand how adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse understand their experiences of disclosure to mental health professionals. The conceptual framework is existential and approaches the problem from a phenomenological perspective. An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) design was employed to answer the research question of how adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse understand their experiences of disclosure of the abuse to a mental health professional. Data were collected using semi-structured, in-person interviews and analyzed according to IPA procedures of data analysis. Four themes were identified, Alone and Not Alone, Throwing Grenades, Monsters in the Deep, and That’s Not What I Wanted. These experiences derive from a deep desire for connection in the act of disclosure. Understanding that disclosure is a relational experience rather than a unidirectional, linear experience has implications for clinical practice, for counselor supervision and counselor education. Implications for social change to support male survivors include raising awareness, addressing legal disparities, and identifying leadership organizations who can help diffuse more inclusive messaging concerning childhood sexual abuse.