Young Couple with Two Children (8-12) Walking on the Beach --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The Family Treatment Program grew out of the awareness that family involvement is an integral part of psychological evaluation and treatment. It is unique in Arkansas in its specialization in abuse-focused treatment and management of within-family child sexual abuse. Referrals are from the Arkansas Department of Human Services, juvenile courts, Arkansas State Police, local law enforcement units, prosecutors, attorneys ad litem, victim assistance coordinators, schools, physicians, probation officers, mental health agencies, other concerned professionals and the families themselves.

The program is particularly well suited to working with those families who are dealing with sexual abuse when the abused child and at least one non-abusive parent will enter treatment.  The Family Treatment Program also provides assessments and treatment for children and families when sexual abuse has occurred outside the home.  The team approach helps minimize the confusion often seen in the treatment of sexual abuse.  Children 4-18 years of age and their parents or caregivers benefit from support, information, and treatment for trauma-related symptoms.

Since opening in 1991, the Family Treatment Program has provided evaluations and treatment for over 600 victims of child sexual abuse and their families. Collateral services were provided for the parents of all these children, with more intensive services for 90 secondary victims. (Secondary victims are family members who also are suffering from the effects of the child sexual abuse and include non-offending parents, siblings, and grandparents of the molested children.)

Specialized services in the Family Treatment Program include individual, family, and group therapies for victims, non-offending parents, and non-abused siblings. Treatment is delivered by a multidisciplinary team comprised of three doctoral level psychologists including the director, and three social workers. Many of the families are coping with other serious problems directly related to the discovery of the sexual abuse including loss of a home, reduced income and family conflict. Child physical abuse, domestic violence and substance abuse are often present. Treatment planning must take into account all these issues in order for the family to be able to cope effectively with the child’s sexual abuse. The therapists must also work with community agencies to coordinate services for children and to minimize system trauma for the child and family.

The Arkansas Sexual Adjustment Project (ASAP) is a specialty treatment program within the Family Treatment Program for treatment of children and adolescents with sexual behavior disorders (e.g. child molesting). This treatment is critical in reducing the risk for re-offense. ASAP has been operational since 1995, during which time over 300 patients have been seen for treatment and more than 900 have been assessed for treatment.