The Dialectic of Chaos and Control in the Experience of Therapists Who Work with Sexually Abused Children

Chaya Possick, Nirit Waisbrod, Eli Buchbinder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study is to contribute to the understanding the interaction between the emotionally destructive intensity of the trauma and forces that foster growth in therapists who treat sexually abused children. Data were collected through in-depth semistructured interviews with 14 experienced social workers. Content analysis reveals two emotional poles. At one pole, the dominant experiences are anxiety, turmoil, and intrusion that disrupted the order in the interviewees secure world. At the opposing pole, the dominant experiences are positive, such as hope and faith. These formed the basis of empowering meaning construction that engendered a sense of control, enabling the therapists to trust the value of intervention with sexually abused children. The discussion uses a dialectical perspective to examine how interaction between these two poles enhances our understanding of the emotional and existential threats inherent in working with children who have experienced sexual abuse and on the potential for positive change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-836
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number7
StatePublished - 3 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


  • child sexual abuse
  • posttraumatic growth
  • therapists of child sexual abuse
  • vicarious trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'The Dialectic of Chaos and Control in the Experience of Therapists Who Work with Sexually Abused Children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this