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Cognitive behavioral group therapy for sexually abused girls

Luísa Fernanda Habigzang Fernanda Helena Stroeher Roberta Hatzenberger Rafaela Cassol Cunha Michele da Silva Ramos Sílvia Helena Koller About the authors

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of a cognitive behavioral group therapy model among female children and adolescents victims of sexual abuse. METHODS: A non-randomized study with intragroup comparisons over time was carried out. Female children and teenagers from nine to 16 years of age (N=40) were clinically assessed in three individual meetings in the metropolitan area of Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil, between 2006 and 2008. The group therapy comprised 16 semi-structured sessions. Psychological instruments were applied to investigate symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, child stress, beliefs and perception of the abuse experience before, during and after the intervention. The results were analyzed through statistical tests for repeated measures. A comparative analysis was carried out with the results of the pretest between the groups that received group psychotherapy immediately after the sexual abuse was reported and those who were waiting for psychological support. RESULTS: The assessment of the impact of the intervention revealed that cognitive behavioral group therapy significantly reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, child stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, the intervention enabled the participants to modify beliefs of guilt, low degrees of trust and credibility, and was effective in reducing psychological symptoms and changing distorted beliefs and perception in regard to the abuse. CONCLUSIONS: Cognitive behavioral group therapy was effective in reducing psychological symptoms in sexually abused girls.

Child; Adolescent; Adolescent Psychology; Child Abuse, Sexual; Cognitive Therapy; Psychotherapy, Group

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