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Objectives. There is little empirical evidence to guide clinical practice in treating adult patients presenting to adult mental health and primary care services with severe psychological difficulties consequent on childhood sexual abuse. The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a model of short term, focal, integrative psychotherapy with this population of patients and to compare outcomes when the model is delivered on an individual or group basis.

Design. This study used a patient preference design with random allocation to one of two treatment modalities (individual or group treatment). There was a waiting list control.

Method. A group of 48 women patients were assessed on 4 psychological measures when entering a waiting list condition, immediately before treatment and after completion of 12 sessions of psychotherapy, either in a group or individually. Follow-up data were collected at 4 months and 8 months.

Results. Both individual and group patients showed highly statistically and clinically significant improvements after treatment. These gains were maintained at follow-up with the exception of one measure that indicated a significant decline from post-treatment levels for the group patients.

Conclusions. This model of psychotherapy is highly effective, when delivered by chartered clinical psychologists to patients whose preferences for individual or group therapy have been met.