Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Volume 3, May 22, 2000


Book Review

Brief and Extended Interventions in Sexual Abuse, Second Edition

Robert H. Rencken, 2000; American Counseling Association (ACA).
ISBN: 1-55620-178-8; 232 Pages

Reviewed by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD PhD
To buy this book, see link at bottom of review.

The Author:
Robert Rencken, CCMHC, has been a mental health counselor, school psychologist and clinical sexologist in private practice in Tucson, Arizona, for over 25 years. He has given nationwide workshops and seminars on the issues of sexual abuse, incest, and childhood sexuality.

The Audience:
A wide range of professionals gets into contact with the issue of sexual abuse: The school teacher or school counselor who wants to understand how a victim should be treated at school. The medical or mental health professional whose client has a past history of sexual abuse. The law enforcement professional who works with families experiencing sexual abuse.  The Child Protective Services agent and many more. All these professionals work with individual segments of the entire picture. "…The intent of this book is to provide a clear and basic framework for understanding the dimensions (scope, taxonomy, philosophy) and dynamics (individual, familial, societal) of pedosexual behavior, particularly child sexual abuse. The major focus is on the implementation of integrated intervention strategies for any professional who faces only one ‘piece of the puzzle'…"

Brief Interventions:
Mainly due to budgetary constraints, today's mental health professionals are generally challenged to apply brief interventions instead of long-term treatments. Rencken introduces several brief interventions, which may prove effective under these constrained circumstances.

Since his original version of this book, Intervention Strategies for Sexual Abuse (1989), the area of sexual abuse has received much public attention. New insights gained over the past decade, such as the issues of false accusations; "planted," repressed and recovered memories; ritual and satanic abuse; and increased attention to female offenders have been included in this new edition.

The book is concise and brief without appearing superficial. Much information has been compressed into an easily accessible and readable format. In his initial chapter "Overview of the Problem," Rencken provides clear definitions of terms such as regressed, pedophile, rapist, and ritualistic. He further introduces his pedosexual taxonomy, which enhances clinical communication by establishing clear description of the abuse along four axes:
    1) The setting
     2) Possible age combinations between victim and perpetrator
     3) Level of coercion
     4) Offender dynamics

Chapter 2 describes intervention strategies with victims of abuse in children less than age 7, between the ages of 7 and puberty, and treating the adolescent victim. Even though brief, this chapter provides much detailed information. Following are chapters on intervention strategies in the treatment of offenders, and of family and adult survivors. Finally, eleven case stories present examples for how these intervention strategies are applied in real life situations, and Chapter 6 "The Road Ahead," concludes the book with an outlook on education and prevention of sexual abuse. An extensive glossary and a reference list are attached.

Brief and Extended Interventions in Sexual Abuse presents a very complex and multi-dimensional topic in an accessible and comprehensive format. Besides offering clear definitions and a logical taxonomy enhancing communication between different
professionals involved, the book provides a number of treatment strategies, which will benefit anyone working in the field of sexual abuse.

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Brief and Extended Interventions in Sexual Abuse