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Healing the Feeling of Being Contaminated in Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

18 Sep

Clinicians from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany evaluated the feasibility and efficacy of a process called Cognitive Restructuing and Imagery Modification (CRIM), which combines cognitive interventions with imagery in a 2-session treatment to reduce the distressing feeling of being contaminated experienced by adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
The team consecutively treated 9 women suffering from chronic CSA-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) plus the feelings of being contaminated. Ratings regarding intensity, vividness, and uncontrollability of this feeling, and related distress as well as the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS) were administered prior to (t0), post (t1), and six weeks after (t2) treatment.

When comparing before treatment and 6 weeks post treatment, the impact was  large for intensity of the feeling of being contaminated (Cohen’s d = 2.23; p < .01), as well as its vividness (d = 1.83; p < .01), uncontrollability (d = 2.79; p < .01), and the related distress (d = 2.45; p < .01), along with PDS scores (d = .99; p < .05).

Results are of course limited by the small size of the sample and the lack of a control group, but are nonetheless impressive.  Data suggest that CRIM has the potential to reduce the FBC as well as PTSD symptoms after CSA.

Citation: Steil R, Jung K, Stangier U. Efficacy of a two-session program of cognitive restructuring and imagery modification to reduce the feeling of being contaminated in adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse: a pilot study. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 2011 Sep;42 (3): pages 325-9. Epub 2011 Feb 3. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award