Therapy with adult female incest survivors: Guidelines for a time-limited group

Patricia Brodie-Colontino, Pace University


This project focuses on group work with adult female survivors of incest. With more and more well known people coming forward to disclose incestuous backgrounds, it is becoming vitally important that therapists gain insight and understanding into the major issues and effects of this type of abuse. The school psychologist that is familiar with the effects and symptoms will be better able to recognize and help students who have been abused. Furthermore, psychologists need to have at least a working knowledge of one of the most effective ways in which to deal with this highly emotional and pervasive subject. In that regard, group work has emerged as the treatment of choice with this population when used in conjunction with individual treatment. By offering guidance and a "model" for a structured group, the project will be useful for the therapist who is beginning to see members of this population in their practice. The design of the group that is presented makes it especially suited for implementation in a community mental health setting. Clients can be drawn from the current case load. School psychologists need to be particularly aware of the effects of sexual abuse since they will be dealing with the children of the survivors. There is evidence that an adult who was abused as a child is likely, without help to abuse their own child. Structured and time limited groups have been advocated by various researchers as the most efficient mode of therapy. In accordance with these findings, the guidelines presented are for a 20 week, structured group that focuses on the abuse and its effects. A discussion of the major issues is presented as well as examples of how to convey the importance of these issues, short definitions, and issue etiology. Issues that are addressed have been identified as some of the most pervasive for this population. In addition, some of the major concerns that therapists will have to consider are addressed. Furthermore, the very nature of the material that is presented by these women is so emotionally charged that a case is made for the group to be run by co-therapists and for therapist debriefing. Evaluation of the group is presented in the form of self-report and feedback from the participants and individual therapists. The group could easily be used as the basis for empirical research into its effectiveness. Additionally, it offers the beginning incest therapist a small but concentrated body of information about the population. No conclusions will be drawn about the proposed program since that is beyond the scope of this project.

Subject Area

Psychology|Psychotherapy|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Brodie-Colontino, Patricia, "Therapy with adult female incest survivors: Guidelines for a time-limited group" (1994). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9417116.



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