Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Herlihy, Barbara

Second Advisor

Watson, Zarus

Third Advisor

White, Carolyn

Fourth Advisor

Bedford, April


Counselors working in a wide array of settings are likely to encounter clients who have significant histories of childhood trauma, including childhood sexual abuse (CSA). The effects of CSA on the adult survivor are complex, and often difficult to resolve. Many trauma theorists have hypothesized that these problems may be mediated by disturbances in the survivor's construction of self. This exploratory, phenomenological study examined the subjective self as it moved through the processes of therapy and recovery from CSA. The data consisted of written material generated over several years of my own therapeutic work, including journals, letters, and poems. The analysis of data revealed significant shifts in elements of the self including the development of a truer and more coherent autobiographical narrative, a greater sense of connection with and ownership of the body, and a stronger sense of both autonomy and the ability to enter and sustain healthy relationships. The purpose of this study was to offer a conceptual bridge between the subjective world of a survivor and the theoretical and clinical perspectives of the practicing counselor and counselor educator. The results revealed one person's strategies for creating a stronger and more integrated self as well as suggestions for future research


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