Skip to main content Accessibility help

Childhood Sexual Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Considerations for Rehabilitation Counsellors

  • Kylie Dearn (a1) and Lynda R. Matthews (a2)


Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a frequently occurring event that has a strong and lasting impact on adult functioning. A significant percentage of adults who are sexually abused as children subsequently meet the diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and demonstrate an increased vulnerability toward further traumatisation. Despite the likelihood that rehabilitation counsellors will encounter clients with this history, published literature on the contribution of rehabilitation counsellors to work with adults who were abused as children is limited. This report discusses ways rehabilitation counsellors can contribute to the inter-professional collaboration required to achieve a reduction in impact of disability and handicap associated with the long-term impact of CSA.


Corresponding author

CRS Australia, Suite 1, 77 Albert Avenue, Chatswood NSW 2067, Australia


Hide All
Bandurra, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychobgicd Review, 84, 191215.
Baladerian, N. (1991). Sexual abuse of people with developmental disabilities. Sexuality and Disability, 9, 323335.
Beck, R.J. & Franke, D.I. (1996). Rehabilitation of victims of natural disasters. Journal of Rehabilitation, 62(4), 2832.
Boudewyn, A.C. & kLiem, J.H. (1995). Childhood sexual abuse as a precursor to depression and self-destructive behaviour in adulthood. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 8(3), 445459.
Bourne, E.J. (1996). The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. Oaklands, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Bremner, J.D., & Brett, E.A. (1997). Trauma-related dissociative states and long-term psychopathology in posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 10(1), 3749.
Briere, J.N. (1997). Psychological assessment of child abuse effects in adults. In Wilson, J. & Keane, T. (Eds) Assessing Psychological Trauma and PTSD (pp. 4368). New York: The Guilford Press.
Briere, J.N. (1992). Child Abuse Trauma: Theory and Treatment of The Lasting Effects. California: SAGE publications.
Briggs, L. & Joyce, P.R., (1997). What determines the post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology for survivors of childhood sexual abuse? Child Abuse and Neglect, 21(6), 575581.
Brown, I. (1992). Some challenges to counselling in the field of disabilities. In Robertson, S.E. & Brown, R.I. (Eds.) Rehabilitation Counselling: Approaches in the field of disability, (pp. 275295). London: Chapman & Hall.
Brunt, D. (1994). Long-term repercussions of the trauma of sex abuse in childhood. In Watts, R. and Home, D. (Eds.) Coping with trauma (pp. 121136). Brisbane: Australian Academic Press.
Cole, P.M., & Putnam, F.W. (1992). Effect of incest on self and social functioning: A developmental psychopathology perspective. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2, 174184.
Farley, R.C. & Akridge, R.L. (1987). The contribution of relaxation training to the acquisition of job interview skills: A pilot study. Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin, 20(3), 115118.
Fergusson, D.M., Horwood, L.J., Lynskey, M.T. (1997). Childhood sexual abuse, adolescent sexual behaviours and sexual revictimization. Child Abuse and Neglect, 31(8), 789803.
Fogarty, C.A., & Beck, R.J. (1995). Work adjustment for individuals with PTSD. Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Bulletin, 28(3), 7680.
Follette, V.M., Polusny, M.A., Bechtle, A.E., & Naugle, A.E. (1996). Cumulative trauma: The impact of child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault, and spouse abuse. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9(1), 2535.
Froehlich, J. (1992). Occupational therapy interventions with survivors of sexual abuse. In Merrill, Susan Cook (Ed). Occupational Therapy and Psychosocial Dysfunction, (pp. 125). New York: Hawthorn Press.
Gartner, R.B. (1997). Considerations in the psychoanalytic treatment of men who were sexually abused as children. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 14(1), 1341.
Gold, S.N., Hughes, D.M., & Swingle, J.M. (1996). Characteristics of childhood sexual abuse among female survivors in therapy. Child Abuse and Neglect, 20(4), 13231333.
Goldman, D.G., & Padayachi, U.A. (1997). The prevalence and nature of child sexual abuse in Queensland, Australia. Child Abuse and Neglect, 21 (5), 489498.
Gorey, K.M. & Leslie, D.R. (1997). The prevalence of child sexual abuse: Integrative review adjustment for potential response and measurement biases. Child Abuse and Neglect, 21 (4), 391397.
Green, B.L. (1994). Psychosocial research in traumatic stress: An update. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7(3), 341362.
Herman, J.L. (1992). Trauma and Recovery: From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. London: Harper & Collins.
Hershenson, D.B. (1990). A theoretical model for rehabilitation counseling. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 33(4), 268277.
Kendall-Tacket, K.A., Williams, L.M., & Finkelhor, D. (1992). Impact of sexual abuse on children: A review and synthesis of recent empirical studies. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 164180.
Liem, J.H., O'Toole, J.G., & James, J.B. (1996). Themes of betrayal in sexual abuse survivors' characterisations of interpersonal relationships. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 9(4), 745761.
Lisak, D. & Luster, L. (1994). Educational, occupational, and relationship histories of men who were sexually and/or physically abused as children. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7(4), 507523.
Marmar, C. (1997). Trauma and dissociation. PTSD Research Quarterly, 8(3), 16.
Matthews, L.R. (1999). Road trauma, PTSD and occupational functioning: Implications for policy development, intervention and rehabilitation. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 23(3), 323325.
Meichenbaum, D. (1985). Stress Inoculation Training. New York: Pergamon Press.
Mullen, P.E., Martin, J.L., Anderson, J.C., Romans, S.E. and Herberson, G.P. (1996). The long-term impact of the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children: A community study. Child Abuse and Neglect, 20(1), 721.
Neumann, D.A., Houskamp, B.M., Pollock, V.E., & Briere, J. (1996). The long-term sequelae of childhood sexual abuse in women: A meta-analytic review. Child Maltreatment, 1, 616.
Ochberg, F. (1993). Posttraumatic therapy. In Wilson, J. & Raphael, B. (Eds.) International Handbook of Traumatic Stress Syndromes (pp. 773783). New York: Plenum Press.
Ratican, K.L. (1992). Sexual abuse survivors: Identifying symptoms and special treatment considerations. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71, 3338.
Richards, D.A., Lovell, K., & Marks, I.M. (1994). Posttraumatic stress disorder: Evaluation of a behavioral treatment program. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7(4), 669679.
Rodriguez, N., Ryan, S.W., Rowan, A.B., & Foy, D.W. (1996). Posttraumatic stress disorder in a clinical sample of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect, 20(10), 943952.
Rowan, A.B., Foy, D.W. (1993). Posttraumatic stress disorder in child sexual abuse survivors: A literature review. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 6(1), 320.
Silva, C., McFarlane, J., Soeken, K., Parker, B., & Reel, S. (1997). Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in abused women in a primary care setting. Journal of Women's Health, 6(5), 543552.
Silverman, A.M., Reinherz, H.Z., & Giaconia, R.M. (1996). The long-term sequelae of child and adolescent abuse: A longitudinal community study. Child Abuse and Neglect, 20(8), 709723.
Strauser, D. (1995). Applications of self-efficacy theory in rehabilitation counseling. Journal of Rehabilitation, 61(1), 711.
Thomas, J.R. (1995). Post-traumatic stress disorder: Vocational considerations. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 26(1), 912.
van der Kolk, B.A. (1996). The complexity of adaption to trauma: Self-regulation, stimulus discrimination, and characterological development. In van der Kolk, B.A.McFarlane, A.C. & Weisaeth, L., (Eds), Traumatic Stress (pp. 182213). The Guildford Press: New York.
van der Kolk, B.A., & Fisler, R. (1995). Dissociation and the fragmentary nature of traumatic memories: Overview and exploratory study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 8(4), 505525.
van der Kolk, B.A., McFarlane, A.C. & van der Hart, O. (1996). A general approach to treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. In van der Kolk, B.A.McFarlane, A.C. & Weisaeth, L., (Eds), Traumatic Stress (pp. 417440). The Guildford Press: New York.
Williams, M.B. (1994). Establishing safety in survivors of severe sexual abuse. In Williams, M.B. & Sommer, J.F. (Eds.) Handbook of Post Traumatic Therapy (pp. 162178). Greenwood Press: Westpoint.
Williams, M.B. & Sommer, J.F. (1994). Toward the development of a generic model of posttraumatic stress disorder treatment. In Williams, M.B. & Sommer, J.F. (Eds.) Handbook of Post Traumatic Therapy (pp. 541563). Greenwood Press: Westpoint.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed