University of Limerick
OConnor_2019_Exploration.pdf (12.29 MB)

An exploration of helping professional’s lived experience working with child sexual abuse in a specialist service

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posted on 2022-12-15, 09:30 authored by Stephanie O'Connor
Background:. Minimal research has been carried out investigating Helping Professionals (HPs) experiences of working with children and families that have experienced Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). Furthermore, there is a significant dearth of literature examining individual processes of making sense and meaning of these experiences. The current study aimed to address these gaps in the literature through an exploration of HPs lived experiences of working with CSA in a Specialist Service (SS). Method: Twelve HPs working across two SSs for the assessment and treatment of CSA volunteered to participate in this study. Semi-structured interviews were carried out to explore HPs perceptions and experiences of working in this area. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) provided a framework for the analysis of this data. Results: Five Master Themes and several associated Sub-Themes emerged through analysis procedures. These themes included ‘Evoked and Embodied’, ‘Process’, ‘Collective Support’, ‘Contained Spaces’, and ‘Worth the Journey’. Discussion: This study provides a novel contribution to the literature in its exploration of HPs experiences working with CSA in a SS. The results of this study are discussed in the context of previous literature. Clinical and service-based implications of these findings are outlined. Limitations and strengths of this study are then presented, as well as avenues for future research.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Coughlan, Barry





Department or School

  • Psychology

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