ABSTRACT

Childhood sexual abuse raises strong emotions not just within the greater community but also within academic and therapeutic circles. With this in mind, there is little doubt that the use of carefully considered, timely, and reliable assessment procedures is of paramount importance in cases of suspected and/or corroborated abuse. The purpose of this chapter is to outline some of the factors to be borne in mind during the assessment process and to outline some of the assessment devices available. This chapter does not aim to provide an exhaustive review of all available devices and to comment on all context specific issues that occur during the assessment stages. Rather, we aim to provide the generic counselor/agency worker with more domain specific knowledge regarding the issues related to evaluation. To achieve this goal we first outline some of the generic factors to be considered when assessing children for abuse. This includes issues of disclosure, comorbidity, ethnicity, gender, family functioning, legal, child protection responsibilities, and the possibility of creating a trauma myth. We then outline common structured and semistructured interviews and self-report instruments used during assessment. Although it is accepted that individualized case formulations require the use of

psychometric assessments covering many presentations (e.g., depression, anxiety, general internalizing or externalizing behaviors), the current review focuses mainly on the evaluation of trauma symptoms. This is followed by a short introduction into the developing area of psychophysiological assessment.