Sexual abuse inquiry and response: A New Zealand training programme

Mary Rose Cavanagh, John Read*, Brendan New

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    47 Citations (Scopus)


    Despite the high prevalence of child abuse amongst users of mental health services and the many long-term sequelae of abuse, it has been demonstrated, in New Zealand and elsewhere, that mental health professionals are frequently unaware of clients' abuse histories. In response an urban District Health Board has introduced policy guidelines that all mental health clients must be asked about sexual abuse and other trauma, and that all mental health staff must receive training designed to improve confidence and competence in relation to inquiring about abuse, and responding to disclosures. This paper summarises the New Zealand and international research that informed the design of the training programme, and presents an evaluation of the first seven administrations of the programme, to 85 mental health staff from a range of professions. The programme was highly valued by participants, was effective in improving confidence, knowledge and some of the relevant beliefs, and improved actual clinical practice for a proportion of the staff.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-144
    Number of pages8
    JournalNew Zealand Journal of Psychology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


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