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A Preliminary Report Comparing Trauma-Focused and Present-Focused Group Therapy Against a Wait-Listed Condition Among Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors with PTSD

WithCatherine Classen, Cheryl Koopman, Kirsten Nevill-Manning, David Spiegel

In trauma-focused treatment the goal is to help survivors work through and integrate their traumatic abuse experiences. The aim of the trauma-focused intervention is to help survivors work through the consequences of the sexual abuse by focusing directly on memories of the abuse. Thus, women in the trauma-focused group may have learned how to tolerate reminders of the abuse requiring less need for their dissociative defense. A reduction in memory problems and nightmares would be most likely to occur in the trauma-focused intervention. The diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been proposed as a way to classify many of the central clinical features that are present in adult abuse survivors. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse who also suffer from PTSD are individuals who have become psychologically immobilized by their abuse experiences because of their inability to process fully the traumatic experiences.