PODS ran a survey in 2016 in association with One in Four (www.oneinfour.org.uk) with the aim of assessing the degree to which counsellors and psychotherapists have received training to work with survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA) and child sexual exploitation (CSE). We also wanted to see the extent to which the topics of trauma, dissociation and shame were included in that training.

Ancedotally, many therapists had said to us that they had not received any significant training in CSA, CSE, trauma or dissociation during their initial training. We therefore approached people on the mailing lists of PODS and One In Four to see if this was the case.

Over 200 therapists responded, and the findings are presented here as an infographic. In summary, less than a third of professionals had received training on CSA (despite 98% of them going on to work with this client group) and only 8% on CSE (60% of them went on to work with survivors of CSE.) Pleasingly, nearly two thirds received some training on trauma although less than a third on dissociation, but the vast majority didn’t feel that it was enough or that it prepared them sufficiently for working with this client group.

The results are only a survey rather than an academic study, but nevertheless highlight the need for counsellors and therapists to receive more adequate training at the initial stages of their career for working especially with child sexual abuse, given that 98% of them reported having gone on to work with survivors. The results however may be skewed by the fact that the therapists responding were on ours or One in Four’s mailing list and probably therefore had some prior interest in this field. It would be interesting to see a more thorough and widescale study performed to really assess whether therapists’ initial training is suitable for the scale of CSA and CSE in society.