Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 1-1-2017


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Lisa Lopez Levers

Committee Member

Waganesh Zeleke

Committee Member

Debra Hyatt-Burkhart


Evidence-based practices (EBPs); Lived experiences; PTSD; sexual trauma interventions; Sexual Violence; Trauma-focused therapists


The purpose of this study was to explore trauma-focused therapists’ perceptions of and lived experiences with evidence-based practices (EBPs) when delivering sexual trauma interventions to clients. Over the last three decades, new research has shown that the existence of EBPs significantly influences clinicians’ approaches in working with clients. Numerous studies have quantitatively validated EBPs; however, the literature is lacking qualitative studies that explore trauma-focused therapists’ perceptions of and experiences with EBPs, especially when delivering sexual trauma interventions. In order to complement the literature on EBPs and trauma interventions, this research conducted individual semi-structured interviews with 10 trauma-focused therapists who had experience treating survivors of sexual violence. These participants worked in agencies and/or private practices and self-identified as using an evidence-based approach when treating survivors of sexual violence.

This qualitative, phenomenologically-oriented study used van Manen’s life world existentials (lived body, lived space, lived time, and lived relation), Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model (microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and chronosystem), and Levers’ ISAT model (clinical relationship, nexus of personal and treatment issues, and broader systemic and cultural influences) to elucidate the data collected. The results of the study identified themes based on trauma-focused therapists’ perceptions of EBPs that are relevant to the development, implementation, dissemination, and sustainability of sexual trauma interventions. Participants expressed positive feelings toward using approaches that have a great deal of research and support. However, they also recommended flexibility for adapting modalities to work with trauma survivors. As EBPs continue to influence clinicians’ decision-making process, this investigation’s findings may contribute to the existing knowledge base with regard to trauma-focused therapists’ perceptions and lived experiences in the trauma field. This study may also contribute to an advanced comprehension of EBPs in treating sexual trauma.