Date of Graduation

Summer 8-1-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions


Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Brent R. Ferm, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Brac Selph, Psy.D.

Third Advisor

William Bosl, Ph.D.


For psychotherapists, encountering clients who have experienced sexual trauma or abuse is inevitable, whether or not the abuse is disclosed to the therapist; however, mental health professionals receive extremely limited (if any) training on how to identify or effectively support adult clients who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Many people who experienced CSA, especially those who identify as male, remain isolated and invisible in their suffering as adults even within therapeutic spaces, facing what feel like insurmountable barriers – both internal and external – to getting help. When sexual abuse is intrafamilial, these barriers are both amplified and multiplied; and for reasons that this dissertation explores in depth, the same is true when the victim is a male. This study aimed to explore and qualitatively analyze the experience of psychotherapists with clinical expertise in providing mental health treatment to men with a history of CSA, using interpretative phenomenological analysis as a methodological framework. The author interviewed six licensed therapists about their perceptions of therapy with these clients, issues related to the abuse, particular challenges for male survivors, and how they experienced the therapeutic relationship with these clients. Through intensive analysis of interview transcripts, phenomenological clustering of data and inclusion of direct quotations from participants, the study’s findings illustrate a tragically unrecognized reality about the plight of male survivors, their critically unmet mental health needs, and parallel challenges faced by the providers who treat them.

Program Signature Page - SIGNED.pdf (322 kB)