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Clinical Therapy

A sexual assault can be a devastating emotional experience. At the Sex Abuse Treatment Center (SATC), support is available for all survivors of sexual violence. SATC has experienced professional therapists to help with your healing. Your SATC crisis counselor will make arrangements for you if you want to begin therapy.

Therapy for Children

SATC provides individual and family therapy, victim support services and legal systems advocacy for children. Victim support services may involve collaboration with outside agencies such as the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center or the Children’s Alliance to secure additional resources. Because a sexual assault impacts the entire family, we also offer services to non-offending parents and other family members.

Therapy may be individual or with one or more family members. The type of therapy will depend on the child's age, level of development and the needs that arise from the trauma of the abuse. Behavior therapy and cognitive therapy incorporating play techniques and art are examples of the types of therapy available at the SATC.

The primary goals of therapy with a child are to identify and express feelings, to understand that the assault was not the child's fault, and to develop healthy coping skills. The therapist also works with the child and family members to minimize the risk of the child being victimized again. For a child to receive ongoing therapy at the SATC, written permission from a parent or legal guardian is necessary.

 

Therapy for Teens

The SATC offers individual, group and family therapy, victim support services and legal systems advocacy for adolescents who have been sexually assaulted. Victim support services may involve collaboration with outside agencies such as the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center or the Children’s Alliance to secure additional resources.

Services are also available for non-offending family members. The type of therapy offered depends on the needs of the teenager, but may involve behavioral or cognitive techniques, the use of art or other media, readings, and keeping a journal. These and other approaches can help the teen to identify, label and express feelings and thoughts about the abuse and encourage the development of positive coping skills and risk reduction strategies.

In order for a teen (under 14) to receive ongoing therapy services at the SATC, written permission from a parent or legal guardian is necessary. Under certain circumstances, teens between the ages of 14 through 17 may initiate counseling at SATC without their parents’ permission. However, the therapist will work closely with the teen to stress the importance of involving parents in treatment planning. If the person who is abusing the teen is a parent, step-parent or other family member, please call the SATC hotline and our intake workers can assist in finding help and looking at your options.

 

Therapy for Adults

Individual and family therapy are available and the SATC also offers groups that can complement individual work. Partners or family members of survivors currently in treatment at the SATC may receive therapy services at the SATC.

The SATC also provides victim support services and legal systems advocacy to assist clients with a wide range of issues. The goals of therapy are unique to each person, but generally involve helping the person gain a better understanding about the dynamics of sexual assault, correcting false beliefs about what happened, developing appropriate coping mechanisms and teaching skills and techniques to decrease the risk of being victimized again.

 

Survivor Story
Someone I Thought I Knew Well
Most people have heard of the fight or flight response which is your body’s reaction to perceived danger or stress. What I didn’t know about is called a freeze response. This is another way the human body responds in survival mode.  This freeze response is exactly what occurred when I was raped.
Read Mychal's Story

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Therapy

Why should I consider therapy?

Dealing with the trauma of a sexual assault can be a lonely and frightening experience. Through therapy, you can learn to better understand your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. You can also learn to regain a sense of safety and self-esteem. It takes courage to recognize these problems and seek help. It isn’t a quick or easy process. Healing from the trauma of sexual violence takes time and patience, and starting therapy is a big step towards recovery.

How long will I be in therapy?
The time you spend in therapy is based on your needs and will be discussed between you and your therapist. Some only need a few sessions while others may need more time to fully discuss and deal with their concerns.
Where are you located?
SATC therapy offices are located in downtown Honolulu in the Harbor Court Building, 55 Merchant St., 22nd Floor. Please call 808-535-7600 for directions.
What are your hours for therapy?
We are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Limited after-hours appointments are available.
How do I make an appointment for therapy?

Call 808-535-7600 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to schedule an appointment. We have several intake workers available to speak with you.

What is an intake?

The intake process needs to be completed before therapy can begin. This involves making an appointment to see a therapist, completing paperwork, and meeting with the therapist for one to three sessions. You will be asked to come in half-an-hour early for the initial visit to sign consent forms and complete the registration process.

You will then meet with your therapist who will get to know more about you. The first sessions are for gathering information, sharing your experiences, assessing your current situation, and discussing what you hope to achieve in therapy. Sometimes, the therapist may determine that SATC services are not right for you. If this is the case, we will refer you to other agencies or providers that can better assist you.

How long does a counseling session take?

Appointments usually last about 50 minutes and are scheduled once a week at the start of therapy, but may lessen depending on your needs and progress.

Who will I see?

Our staff consists of therapists who are trained in the area of sexual violence and trauma, including psychologists, social workers, and marriage and family therapists. We also have a psychiatrist who is available once a month for medication consultations. SATC clinicians have specific knowledge and experience in working with sex assault victims. Our intake staff will work with you to select a therapist that best fits your treatment needs.

How much does therapy cost?

We accept many different medical insurance plans. If you do not have insurance or have an insurance plan for which we are not a participating provider, we’ll help you find other resources to pay for services. For example, if you report your assault to the police, we can help you apply to the Crime Victim Compensation Commission (CVCC) to ask that they cover the cost of therapy. Another option, if you meet certain financial conditions, is our sliding fee schedule which will reduce your out-of-pocket payments. Even if you have no resources, you can still begin treatment at the SATC. We have public funds to help those who want services but cannot afford it. We’ll work with you to determine how we can best meet your treatment needs.

Do I need medication?

A consulting psychiatrist is available once a month to evaluate and monitor clients' medication. Your SATC therapist can refer you to the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist, in consultation with the therapist, determines whether medication is therapeutically indicated. While medication can be helpful, it is not a substitute for therapy. Any client who is placed on medication by the SATC psychiatrist must actively participate in therapy at the SATC. If a client needs to be seen more frequently than once a month, referrals can be made to other psychiatrists in the community.

Do you have child care services while I’m seeing a therapist?

Unfortunately, SATC does not provide child care during your scheduled appointments. Please leave young children at home or bring an adult who can watch your child in our waiting room while you are with your therapist. You may not leave a child unattended in the reception area.

Are services confidential?

Privacy is always a concern for sexual assault victims. All information within the SATC and anything you share with your therapist is confidential. We will not release or disclose any information without your consent. The only exceptions to our confidentiality policy are if you pose a threat to yourself or others, or situations involving child or elder abuse. If your therapy records are subpoenaed by a court of law, we’ll inform you and work with you and your attorney to determine the most appropriate course of action.

What is case management?
Case management means coordinating services among various agencies and individuals to help maintain the comprehensive care you need for recovery. It may include collecting information from other medical professionals about the client's care to helping the therapist respond to client needs for medical assistance, employment, school functioning, and social services.
What is legal systems advocacy?

Clients can choose whether they wish to pursue legal action. For many, the decision is difficult, especially if the perpetrator is a partner, family member, or an acquaintance. Legal systems advocacy is provided to inform a victim of their options and to support the victim throughout the legal process.

Should a client decide to pursue legal action, various services can be provided to assist in the coordination of care within the criminal justice system. Information can help victims prepare for what to expect in court, helping to reduce anxieties, and can give a victim a sense of empowerment. Therapists sometimes assist in writing a summary for the court that documents the impact of the sexual assault on the victim and loved ones. In some cases, especially with children, the therapist may attend court proceedings, if desired by the victim or family. Such support can be extremely helpful for young victims because parents are usually not allowed in the courtroom during a child’s testimony.

What is victim support services?

Victim support services means coordinating treatment among various agencies and individuals to help maintain the comprehensive care you need for recovery. It may include collecting information from other medical professionals about the client's care, or helping the therapist respond to client needs for medical assistance, employment, school functioning, and social services.

FAQs For Teens

What if I’m a teenager who wants to come in for therapy but I don't want my parents to find out?

Teenagers are at high risk for sexual assault, but are among the least likely to report an assault. Remember: you are not to blame for the attack. The person who hurt you is responsible for what happened, not you. Since you survived, you chose the right way to handle it. There are people who will believe you and who will help you get through the experience. Call the SATC and talk to one of our intake workers about your situation. We’ll do whatever we can to help you get the help you need.

How will my parents react?

No one can predict how your parents may react, but it's common to be uncertain about whether to tell your parents about an assault. Perhaps you don’t want to cause your parents pain or you feel ashamed. Perhaps you think they might blame you for what happened. Perhaps you were doing something they didn’t know about, like drinking at a party. If you have any of these concerns, call our hotline first. Our staff can suggest how to talk to your parents or – with your permission – can talk to your parents directly.

Other General FAQs

If I don't speak English very well, can I still come in for therapy?

SATC services include those who don’t speak English. Ideally, a person can see someone fluent in their native language and we can assist in referring them to an appropriate service provider. However, if we can’t find such a therapist, SATC will use interpreters from the Bilingual Access Line during therapy.

I'm a man and was sexually assaulted. How can you help me?

Many think that only women are sexually assaulted. Because of this misconception, the incidence of sexual violence experienced by men is under reported as male victims often feel alone and don’t want to tell anyone about the assault.  Any man can be a sexual assault victim.

 

Many of the feelings men experience following a sexual assault are common to all victims: denial, confusion, guilt, fear, and helplessness. But men also can worry about how a sexual assault affects their masculinity or sexual orientation. It’s important to remember that the assault has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Sexual assault is a crime of violence and power, not of sexuality: assaults against men are committed primarily by straight men. As a male, you may need special support to cope with the aftermath of an assault. You can receive that support, therapy, and confidentiality from SATC.

I'm an elderly person who was sexually assaulted. Can you help me?

One common myth about sexual assault is that its victims are only young women. It’s a shock when people learn about elderly persons who are also victimized. Offenders often seek out the most vulnerable individuals to attack. Since older people, especially women, are believed to be physically weak and fearful, they may be thought of as easy victims.

 

The impact of sexual assault can also be different for the elderly. Some live alone, which can increase feelings of vulnerability. Some may have limited mobility and transportation, which can create feelings of isolation. Physical problems may lessen their ability to defend themselves and may lead to fears about safety. And for older persons, it’s likely to be especially embarrassing to discuss a sexual assault. For this reason, it’s believed that sexual assaults of older persons are greatly underreported.

 

However, the elderly have developed considerable emotional strength, learning the necessary resiliency to cope with and recover from a crisis that a younger person may not have. The SATC therapists have the knowledge and experience to support them and their families, and address their individual needs, including plans for personal safety.

I’m an LGBTQ individual who was sexually assaulted. Can you help me?

We understand that individuals who identify as LBGTQ are at a significantly higher risk of being sexually assaulted. In fact, as many as one in two LBGTQ individuals have a history of sexual abuse. The SATC therapists are sensitive to the issues that face the LBGTQ community and will provide a supportive, compassionate, and welcoming environment to begin the process of healing.