This review of literature sought to compile a list, albeit not exhaustive, of short and long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and several types of play therapy used to effectively mitigate these effects. CSA has a long reaching impact affecting a child’s well-being, a nation’s societal health in addition to having a massive financial impact worldwide. Some children who are sexually abused do not struggle with negative effects and others are impacted for a lifetime. Some effects of CSA are developmental, cognitive, physical and psychological. These effects can impact the way a child views themselves, adults and the world. This self and world view will have an impact on a child’s ability to form healthy relationships in both childhood and later life. Familial and repeated sexual abuse are implicated in longer more impactful negative effects. Age difference between victim and perpetrator, relational health of child and caregiver’s attachment style, and level of sexual abuse all impact the child’s perceived level of trauma. In an attempt to review therapeutic treatments that were not limited by age or verbal ability two forms of play therapy are considered when evaluating the mitigating effectiveness of therapeutic treatments. Child-Centered Play Therapy and sandtray therapies were found to have a mitigating effect on the short and long-term negative effects of CSA. Results showed effectiveness in very young children, adolescents, older adults, all genders, all sexual orientations and numerous cultures.

Date of Award

Summer 7-31-2021

Document Type

Capstone Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Counselor Education

First Advisor

Mary Fawcett





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