Child & Family Program

Child survivors of sexual abuse (12 and under)

Child survivors of sexual abuse (12 and under)

If properly supported, children possess an extraordinary strength and innate ability to heal. Since 1985, A Step Forward has garnered extensive experience in guiding children and families through recovery from the effects of sexual abuse. Children require a safe environment with healthy boundaries in order to heal from their confusing and traumatic experiences. It is essential to identify the details of the abuse and understand its impact, in order to set goals for therapy. We treat each child as the unique individual they are and offer interventions or therapeutic approaches that best meet their needs. If the child has not been able to articulate what happened to them, we offer an Extended Developmental Assessment which allows the child a more comfortable pace of inquiry. This assessment utilizes expressive play to ease communication via “show-and-tell” approaches such as drama, art, play, and sand-tray. The therapist will also meet with the parents to gather information about the situation and the child, and later include them in the child’s therapy as indicated. We provide cultural- and gender-sensitive interventions.

 

If treatment for the child following the Extended Developmental Assessment is necessary, we help them resolve and integrate their traumatic experiences while developing inner strength and wisdom that they will hold for their lifetime. They will learn how to trust their instincts about healthy boundaries and how to practice asserting their needs. These skills can enhance their development while supporting growing confidence. This is necessary to help them feel safe while navigating the complexities of adolescence and sexual development.

Children with sexual behavioral problems

Children with sexual behavioral problems

We know that raising children in today’s world is full of challenges and that exposure to sexual stimuli is everywhere. The internet, magazines, television, and books (including graphic books and comics) are all used daily by children for schoolwork and entertainment, and the inappropriate content can be difficult to screen. Things can become even more complicated when children with sexual behavior problems may be in reaction to sexual abuse that has happened to them.

 

Children, like all of us, are sexual beings who are curious about their sexual nature. It can be difficult to tell the difference between healthy curiosity and unhealthy behaviors, and parents/caretakers are often alarmed when they discover their pre-pubescent children engaging in sexualized activity. We help parents understand the range between normal and problematic sexual behaviors in children, what their particular child’s behavior means, and we offer guidance as parents intervene on their child’s behalf. We understand that as a parent it can be very confusing to witness a child’s sexual development. We help parents problem-solve and intervene as necessary once we understand the meaning of the child’s sexual expression.