Counselors' affective responses to childhood sexual abuse disclosure
Gardner, Yun Hui
Extant research has revealed that the counselor’s response to the clients’ disclosure of child sexual abuse experiences have a significant impact on their wellbeing, continuation in therapy, and progress in treatment. Despite the growing body of literature on the need for more sensitive and professional responses to child sexual abuse disclosure, clients continue to report negative responses and experiences with counseling professionals. To date, few studies have investigated the counselor’s affective responses to a client who discloses a child sexual abuse history. The purpose of this study was to investigate the range of counselor’s affective responses when confronted with the topic of child sexual abuse and to investigate what factors influenced these reactions. Results of the current study indicated that counselors with a personal history with CSA scored similarly to those with no CSA history on the Affective Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Scale (ARCSAS). However, there was a statistically significant difference in affective responses by degree and CSA history. Counselors with a personal history of CSA and who held a master’s degree responded with greater sensitivity to the topic of CSA than those with a doctoral degree and no personal experience with child sexual abuse. Results of the study indicated that type of CSA training was not a statistically significant factor in affective responses to CSA; however, the amount of CSA training and increased experience with CSA clients did have a positive influence on counselors’ affective responses to CSA. The results of the factor analysis indicated that the ARCSAS was a moderate measure of counselor affective responses with a two-factor structure. The results of the study suggested that measuring affective responses to child sexual abuse is a complex and multidimensional construct with many variances. In addition, the findings of the study support the importance of counselors and counselorsin- training to be prepared prior to their first exposure to CSA clients to illicit more positive responses to CSA. Thus, the results of this study support the need for more child sexual abuse training and experience in order to deflect any negative responses on clients who disclose child sexual abuse.