Using data to inform therapeutic responses to child sexual abuse

Using data to inform therapeutic responses to child sexual abuse

James Herbert and Amanda Paton
24 November 2021

This webinar explored ways in which data from research and practice can inform services’ therapeutic responses to child sexual abuse.

A young girl holding a giant teddy bear and speaking to a child psychologist during therapy

This webinar was held on Wednesday, 24 November 2021. Please post your questions and comments below.

A full recording of the webinar and related resources, including slides, audio and a transcript, will be published soon. Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive a notification when these resources are available.

Therapy for children disclosing sexual abuse is important for addressing the effects of trauma and the potentially lifelong impacts of abuse. Identifying factors that influence engagement or completion of therapy allows services in criminal justice, child protection, community support and mental health systems to make informed decisions about approaches to therapy. However, there is limited research on these factors, highlighting an opportunity for data collection at the local level to contribute to informing service and program design and delivery.

This webinar explored ways in which data from research and practice can inform programs and services responding to child sexual abuse. Specifically, it:

  • outlined what the research evidence says on what influences therapy engagement and completion following a disclosure of child sexual abuse
  • explored the role of referral processes and service practices in the completion of therapy
  • described how data from research and practice can be used to inform program and service model design.

This webinar will be of interest to professionals working in child protection, child and family support and mental health, particularly program and practice managers in services supporting children and families after a disclosure of child sexual abuse.

This webinar builds on the CFCA papers:

Related resources


Featured image: © GettyImages/Lacheev

About the presenters

James Herbert

Dr James Herbert is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia. He is a social researcher undertaking research and evaluation on the topic of cross-agency collaboration in responses to child sexual abuse, particularly the design and implementation of investigation and therapeutic support teams and addressing institutional barriers to effective collaboration.

James is currently undertaking research on addressing the barriers to therapy engagement for children that have disclosed sexual abuse, and on effective deliberation procedures for multi-disciplinary team case review. Working across child protection topics, he also has a key interest in the translation of research evidence into policy and practice change and building the capacity of the sector to apply evaluative thinking to complex social policy issues.

Amanda Paton

Amanda Paton is the Deputy Director, Practice at the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia.  She is a clinical psychologist who specialises in the assessment and treatment of children and young people who have experienced complex trauma from child abuse, particularly related to sexual abuse, children living in out-of-home care and those displaying harmful sexual behaviours. Previously, she led a large specialist clinical team at the multiagency investigation and support teams in Western Australia responding to child sexual abuse and led the design and implementation of two child advocacy centres in Western Australia.

In her current role, Amanda oversees a range of projects including the research, development and implementation of evidence-based therapeutic models for responding to child abuse, neglect, trauma and harmful sexual behaviours in Western Australia. She also provides policy consultancy and advice to the Department of Communities Royal Commission team and Specialist Child Protection Unit.

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