n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Intervention with sexually abused children in middle childhood : guidelines for therapists




Sexual abuse is a brutal form of child abuse that has reached enormous proportions in South Africa. These traumatic events have a negative emotional impact on the child victims. This research is based on the premise that therapists should guide these victimised children in dealing with this trauma and its consequences by means of Gestalt play therapy. The research problem for the study was the lack of guidelines available for therapists to follow when dealing with sexually abused children in middle childhood. Without appropriate intervention the impact of the trauma on these children could be prolonged. The aim of the study was to provide therapists with guidelines designed from the approach of Gestalt play therapy for dealing with and empowering sexually abused children in middle childhood. In order to achieve this goal, qualitative research was employed, while individual case studies were carried out by applying the therapeutic process to three victimised children. The data obtained were analysed, compared with existing literature and used to compile the guidelines. The article is primarily based on research that was done as part of the fulfilment for the M.Diac Degree (Play therapy), but the experience of the researcher in her practice was also integrated. During the research process and in the interpretation of the data obtained, ethical issues concerning research were taken into account. Both the researcher and co-author of the article are qualified social workers and each have fifteen years of experience in working with traumatised children.


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