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J Ment Health Adm. 1994 Fall;21(4):397-406.

Modifications in service delivery and clinical treatment for women diagnosed with severe mental illness who are also the survivors of sexual abuse trauma.

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Community Connections, Washington, DC 20003.


Sexual abuse trauma and chronic revictimization are central to the experience of many women diagnosed with severe mental illness. The high reported prevalence rates of sexual abuse trauma among these women necessitate that program planners and clinicians be prepared to adapt their treatment interventions for use with trauma survivors. This article describes how current treatment approaches for women diagnosed with severe mental illness can be adapted to accommodate the special needs and vulnerabilities of sexual abuse trauma survivors. A history of trauma added to the clinical picture of longstanding and severe mental illness poses new diagnostic and treatment considerations, which are discussed. The full range of rehabilitation services--case management, residential placement and supervision, inpatient hospitalization, medication management, network intervention, and social skills training--must be grounded in an understanding of the trauma experience, informed by accurate assessment of the trauma, and accommodated to the woman's specific history of sexual abuse trauma.

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