Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 6-2010


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor David J. Hansen. Lincoln, Nebraska: June 2010
Copyright 2010 Poonam Tavkar


Child sexual abuse continues to be a prevalent and complex problem in today’s society as it poses serious and pervasive mental health risks to child victims and their non-offending parents. The main objectives of this study were (a) to elucidate the psychological symptoms and support needs of parents of child sexual abuse victims as they present to group treatment, (b) to examine changes in psychological symptoms and support needs and their relationship with child functioning over the course of a parallel group treatment, and (c) to examine the impact of these factors on completion of group treatment. Participants included 104 sexually abused youth and their non-offending parent presenting to Project SAFE Group Intervention, a 12-session cognitive-behavioral group treatment for sexually abused children and their non-offending parents. This project had a unique advantage of utilizing a variety of demographic, parent-, and child-report measures, allowing for a more comprehensive examination of change in symptomatology and needs over the course of treatment. Several significant findings were noted, including the identification of four clusters of youth at pre-treatment, which were maintained at post-treatment; elevations on the CTQ Sexual Abuse scale; parents of youth sexually abused by a non-family member had significantly higher PSI-Restriction of Role subscale scores; parental expectations of a negative impact on their child were worse for older children; several parent characteristics predicted client treatment retention (e.g., older parents, lower SCL-90-R GSI scores); and an early age of onset of abuse also increased treatment retention. Future directions, recommendations, and limitations were discussed.