Jacob Moore

Study on Therapists’ Perceptions of Emotional Abuse

The present study aims to determine how childhood emotional abuse is perceived among mental health professionals. Childhood emotional abuse is underrecognized and underreported when compared to other forms of childhood interpersonal abuse, although research has demonstrated that emotional abuse in childhood may lead to later mental health issues. This project expands on previous research by looking into the perspectives mental health professionals hold about various types of childhood interpersonal abuse. I hypothesized that mental health professionals, on average, will underrecognize the harms of childhood emotional abuse. Mental health professionals will be recruited via email with a goal of recruiting 109 participants to detect statistically significant differences. In the present study, I developed vignettes for physical, sexual, emotional, and no abuse based on vignettes that have been used and validated in previous research. Mental health professionals will be asked to rate the vignettes, which were designed to meet the lowest severity definition for each type of abuse. I further validated the vignettes in consultation with a child forensic interviewer. Preliminary steps have identified and mapped mental health clinics to create a representative list of sites from which to recruit. One thousand and seven mental health clinics in the United States and its territories were identified. Future steps will involve contacting lead mental health professionals at these sites. Recognizing societal stigmas about childhood international abuse can help mental health professionals be better prepared to understand children who experience childhood emotional abuse.

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