Childhood sexual abuse: community-based treatment practices and predictors of use of evidence-based practices

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Abstract

Background

Cognitive behavior therapy with abuse-focused components is empirically supported for children/adolescents who have experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA). We examined the extent to which community-based psychologists use evidence-based practices (EBP) for CSA and identified predictors of EBP use.

Method

Psychologists (= 231) providing CSA treatment services to children/adolescents in Ontario (Canada) were identified through the first census of child and adolescent psychology clinicians registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. Participants completed a questionnaire on treatment strategies, sociodemographics, work setting, treatment provision, and attitudes toward EBP. Data were collected between December 2009 and June 2010.

Results

The majority (78%) of psychologists providing CSA services reported never having received training in specific treatment approaches for this population. Only 5% of psychologists received training in the EBP of trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy. Multiple regressions indicated that age, theoretical orientation, continuing education, and attitudes predicted the use of an empirically based intervention for CSA.

Conclusion

Study findings show that few community-based psychologists have received training in specific treatment approaches for CSA victims and very few are trained to deliver EBP for this population. There are ethical concerns about the practice of psychologists who are untrained and unsupervised doing this work. Research findings, which underline the need for training, supervision, and continuing education, need to be translated into clinical practice.

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