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Treatments That Help with Rape

12 Jul

Researchers from the University of Southern California’s Department of Psychology performed a meta-analysis of what treatment approaches work best for women who have been sexually assaulted during adolescence or adulthood.
Altogether, 32 articles were located using data from 20 separate samples. Of the 20 samples, 12 targeted victims with chronic symptoms, three focused on the acute period post-assault, two included women with chronic and acute symptoms, and three were secondary prevention programs.

The majority of studies focused on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and/or anxiety as treatment targets.  Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure have garnered the most vocal support with this population. Stress Inoculation Training and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing also show efficacy.
Of the four studies that compared active treatments, few differences were found. But overall, cognitive behavioral interventions lead to better PTSD outcomes than supportive counseling does.  (Italics are BR’s)

However, even in the strongest treatments more than one-third of women retain a PTSD diagnosis at post-treatment or drop out of treatment.
Discussion highlights the paucity of research in this area, methodological limitations of examined studies, generalizability of findings, and important directions for future research at various stages of trauma recovery.

[Ed. Note:  Some PET and CPT interventions use guided imagery as part of the protocol, but it is not clear from this abstract which those might be, as this was not part of the analysis.]

Citation:  Vickerman KA, Margolin G.  Rape treatment outcome research: empirical findings and state of the literature.   Clinical Psychology Review. 2009 Jul;29 (5): pages 431-48. Epub 2009 Apr 17. 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