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J Child Sex Abus. 2008;17(3-4):397-420. doi: 10.1080/10538710802330187.

Problem and solution: the spiritual dimension of clergy sexual abuse and its impact on survivors.

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Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA.


In this paper, we offer a way to understand the spiritual dimension of clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse. Spirituality is defined as a search for the sacred--a process of discovery, conservation, and transformation that evolves over the lifespan. We describe the ways in which clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse impacts negatively on the individual's search for the sacred and the ways in which spirituality can serve as a valuable resource for survivors. We then consider how clinicians can draw on the client's spirituality as a source of solutions to problems and how clinicians can address the spiritual problems raised by clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse. Perhaps the greatest challenge for mental health professionals is to become better acquainted with the multifaceted nature of spiritual life.

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