Treatment of the Adolescent Victim
This chapter focuses on some of the major issues that confront a therapist who treats an adolescent victim of sexual assault. Adolescence is one of the most complex and turbulent stages of life. This difficult period can often try the patience of the wisest of adults to its limits. When a sexual trauma is introjected into this naturally problematic time, it can pose extremely complex questions for the therapist. The rape trauma syndrome and recovery cycle are processes that serve to protect the psyche during the trauma itself, help it return to a normal, stable level of functioning after the assault. A therapist’s best strategy is to assume a nonjudgmental role that is supportive of adaptive coping, while nonsupportive of pathological coping mechanisms. The therapist tries to sustain the delicate balance in an adolescent’s struggle to replace the thoughts and feelings of a child with those of an adult.