There are many kinds of care professionals survivors may come into contact with. We've collated a list of the most common examples for your reference although this list is not exhaustive.
Your GP is usually your first port of call if you have any health worries. They look at your overall health to see if there might be physical causes behind any emotional difficulties you're experiencing. If GPs are aware of Childhood Sexual Abuse issues, they can be particularly helpful in helping you access a wide range of services and other specialists.
Community Mental Health Teams
Community Mental Health Teams look after the welfare of people who need more attention for their mental health issues than a GP can provide. The make-up of care teams varies from area to area and according to the needs of the individual. Teams can include psychiatrists, psychologists, community psychiatric nurses, health visitors and housing and welfare officers. Some survivors of childhood sexual abuse are referred to Community Mental Health Teams for help.
Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPN)
CPNs are registered psychiatric nurses who work in the community to provide care for people with mental health issues, including survivors. Referrals generally come via your GP. CPNs can provide support, advice, and help with administering medication.
Counsellors and Psychotherapists
Counselling broadly involves talking to an experienced and trained listener about feelings that exist around areas of difficulty. Counselling does not direct you in what to think or do but can enable you to take decisions about your life and wellbeing. Many survivor agencies provide counselling, as do some GP practices. Reputable counsellors and psychotherapists are registered with the professional body for counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA) or The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP). Contact COSCA or the BACP to find a therapist near you, or see our list of survivor agencies in the Directory.
Psychotherapy is a set of techniques used to treat mental health and emotional problems and some psychiatric disorders. Psychotherapy is often used to deal with psychological problems that have built up over a number of years. Psychotherapy may be carried out on an individual basis, as part of a group or with your spouse or partner. Treatment can be short or long term. You usually need to be referred by your GP. There are many different techniques, disciplines and approaches available, including person-centred, psychoanalytic, psychodynamic and Gestalt. As with other kinds of treatment, it can take time to find which approach or practitioner is best for each individual. Different practitioners have different areas of speciality and levels of expertise.
This stands for Sexual Abuse Service Development Fund and was the name of the finding awarded to survivor agencies for 2008/2009. This is now known as the SurvivorScotland National Strategy Funding.
There are many voluntary organisations who provide highly skilled and trained counselling and support services to survivors. These services may include counselling, advocacy, group work, drop-in facilities, relaxion, self esteem, art therapy, creative writing, crisis support, libraries telephone helplines and support to families and partners. Many survivors find these agencies of particular help as they work specifically on abuse issues.
Many CSA survivors have had contact with psychiatrists in mental health settings. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are specialists in mental health. Most are based in mental health units and psychiatric hospitals. They make psychiatric diagnoses, decisions about treatment and care, and prescribe psychiatric drugs, such as anti-depressants, tranquillisors or anti-psychotics. Psychiatrists also prescribe ECT, (Electro Convulsive Therapy) which involves applying high voltages across the brain of the patient while under general anaesthetic. Treatment in hospital can be voluntary or compulsory. People who are detained in hospital and/or treated against their will are protected by the Mental Health Care and Treatment Act Scotland, 2003. Increasingly, psychiatrists are working in partnership with other agencies. Survivors may be referred by their GP for a psychiatric assessment and treatment.
Psychologists specialise in the way the human mind works, and in human behaviour. There are several different branches of psychology, inlcuding clincal, forensic and educational. They use a variety of therapeutic methods, one of the most common being CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. CBT is concerned with how people think and react in certain situations, to reframe negative patterns of thought and behaviour. CBT uses a series of practical exercises that are worked through with a psychologist, with another trained professional, or as a self-help tool. It is not a 'talking therapy' like counselling.
Psychologists often assist survivors with problems such as anxiety, phobias, depression post traumatic stress disorders. Referrals to psychological services are usually made by your GP.
Public Health Nurses & Health Visitors
Public Health Nurses used to be called Health Visitors. They work in the community and visit people who are being cared for in their own homes or other residential settings. They can be particulalry helpful in supporting mothers, who may be survivors of CSA. They work alongside members of Community Mental Health Teams, such as community psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists.
Mental Health Social Workers
Social workers who specialise in helping people with mental health problems may be based within the community or in a setting such as psychiatric hospitals or residential units. They assess clients needs and offer support and advice, and access help for people with issues such as housing, benefits or addictions. Under the Mental Helath (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, social workers who are appointed Mental Health Officers (MHOs) have the power to arrange compulsory admission to hospital as a last resort if a person is considered a risk to themsleves or others.
Survivors often access a range of other therapies, such as relaxation, art therapy, creative writing, drama, yoga, aromatherapy, herbal and homeopathic tretaments, as well as body work. Many survivors, depending on their individual needs and interests have found these therapies helpful. Some of these therapies may be provided by the NHS, survivor agencies, independent agenices. Referral can be self referral or through health and social care practitioners.