Therapies for child sex abuse victims being evaluated by Bristol experts
Bristol researchers are trying to establish the best way of supporting young victims of sex abuse.
The study being carried out by experts at Bristol and Durham universities will include one of the largest randomised trials of its type in the world.
Sexual abuse often has a devastating and long-term impact on the lives of children and young people and the study, which is being supported by the charity NSPCC will evaluate the effectiveness of a therapeutic service designed to help them deal with their experiences.
The three-and-a-half-year study will evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutic intervention called Letting the Future In (LTFI), which was designed for children and young people aged between four- and 18-years-old who have been affected by sexual abuse.
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It is currently offered by 18 NSPCC teams across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, using a range of approaches to help children and young people express themselves including talking, playing and creative activities such as painting, drawing or storytelling.
They are offered up to 20 sessions with a trained social worker or therapist while their parent or a safe carer may have six individual sessions as well as joint sessions with the child.
Led by Professor John Carpenter from Bristol University and Professor Simon Hackett from Durham University, the independent evaluation includes a randomised trial to determine whether the intervention is successful in meeting the needs of children who have been affected by sexual abuse and their carer in comparison to children in a control group.
Professor Carpenter from Bristol’s School for Policy Studies said: “The programme has considerable plausibility as a likely effective therapy for children and young people who have been affected by sexual abuse, and their families. There is a lack of randomised controlled studies investigating the effectiveness and costs of therapeutic approaches based on models other than cognitive behavioural therapy. No such trials have been conducted in the UK.
“This evaluation is an opportunity to provide rigorous and systematic evidence that will support commissioning decisions, add to the international literature and, most importantly, have the potential to impact positively on the lives of children and families.”