Change during psychotherapy: the perspective of children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

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Claudia Capella *
Carolina Gutiérrez
Loreto Rodrìguez
Camila Gòmez
(*) Corresponding Author:
Claudia Capella | ccapella@u.uchile.cl

Abstract

The aim of this research was to identify the meanings of psychotherapeutic change of children and adolescents who have suffered sexual abuse and were in psychotherapy. In order to do this, a qualitative study was carried out in which in-depth interviews complemented with drawings were conducted with 10 children and adolescents, aged between 6 and 16 years, who were taking part in psychotherapy due to sexual abuse. The interviews took place between 6 and 10 months after the start of the therapy and before it ended. Thematic narrative analysis was used for the interviews and visual narrative analysis for the drawings. The main findings showed that children and adolescents visualized psychotherapeutic change as a process in which gradual progress is made. The participants notice changes from an initial state of sadness and distress, mainly describing a positive shift in terms of emotional well-being. In addition, in this phase of the therapy only a few participants identified changes in their feelings regarding the abusive experience. The participants identified aspects of the therapy and supportive relationships with significant others as elements that foster these changes. In their view, hindering elements include changes of therapist, legal factors, and not being believed by their family. It is discussed the importance of knowing the children and adolescents' perspective regarding psychotherapeutic change while participating in therapy processes, using multiple methodologies, to generate interventions that suit the needs of this population and match the pace of children and adolescents' change.


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