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Childhood sexual abuse has potentially serious and long-lasting negative mental health impacts, including increased risk of developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, suicide attempts, substance abuse, relationship difficulties, and many other problems. Children who experience sexual abuse or assault also develop changes in neurobiology, immune functioning and physical health. Effective treatments are available to help children and teens recover from trauma impact.

Selection Criteria

Criteria for selecting effective interventions for child sexual abuse include the following:

  • The intervention was evaluated for children or teens experiencing sexual abuse or assault as the index trauma, in one or more randomized controlled treatment trial that documented significant treatment effects for improving PTSD/trauma symptoms for this population;
  • The intervention is well described in a treatment manual or book with accessible therapist training and a fidelity instrument; and
  • The intervention used valid, reliable and developmentally appropriate instruments to assess outcomes

Effective Interventions

The following treatments have been shown to be effective in improving trauma-specific outcomes for children and/or teens after sexual abuse or assault (listed alphabetically):

Risk Reduction through Family Therapy

Individual, Family

RRFT is an integrative approach to addressing the heterogeneous symptoms experienced by trauma-exposed adolescents. It targets a broad range of trauma-related psychopathology (e.g., PTSD, depression) and risk behaviors (substance use/abuse, risky sexual behavior, non-suicidal self injury).