Psychotherapy With Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault

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Sexual assault and abuse can result in severe physical and emotional trauma to the victim. Deploying targeted psychotherapeutic treatment that is individualized for the survivor is important to achieving optimal patient outcomes. There are several valid and evidence-based treatments available for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and interpersonal difficulties that can result from sexual abuse and assault. In this article, the authors discuss psychodynamic psychotherapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) for the treatment of patients following sexual assault and abuse. The authors also provide practice points on common issues in the management of the treatment of sexual assault survivors, including transference, countertransference, and avoiding retraumatization. Composite case vignettes are used to illustrate treatment techniques.