BOUNTIFUL — A sadly familiar statistic is that a significant number of abused children will later abuse their own children.
A special technique known as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (T-F CBT) could help stop the cycle, experts believe.
A grant from the Verizon Foundation has donated $20,000 to the Utah Children’s Justice Center for three two-day workshops to teach mental health therapists about this technique for sexually abused children.
Brian Thorn is the staff psychologist for the Center for Safe and Healthy Families at Primary Children’s Medical Center and Verizon trainer. He cleared up a common misconception: “The vast majority of individuals sexually abused as a child do not go on to abuse others.”
Laura Seklemian, Children’s Justice Center (CJC) Training and Development Coordinator, said “The earlier children are treated, the less likely to re-victimize or victimize. Perpetuating the ongoing cycle is not necessarily the case.”
Seklemian went on to say, “It’s cheaper to get treatment now than carry burdens and develop later problems.”
T-F CBT is an evidence-based treatment model and was researched in 25 major studies. “In every case, there were better outcomes and shorter treatment times,” said Thorn.
“People often have the idea that therapy goes on for years. However, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is short-term, lasting around 16 weeks,” said Rebecca Burgert of Blue Sands Counseling and a training participant.
“The treatment puts a child back on track to normal childhood experiences,” said Thorn. “The goal is not to forget it but to put it in place, not to shadow over the rest of a child’s life,” said Thorn
Thorn said the analogy is often given to children of a broken arm: It is painful, but healing is possible.
“Abused children can fully recover,” Thorn said. He added that it’s possible that children can recover at a young age. Later in development, another trigger may arise that may require brief counseling.
For more information check out the Sept.27 edition of Davis Clipper.