Sexual Assault Therapy

Dr. Julia Vigna Bosson

Sexual assault is one of the most jarring, traumatic things that can happen to a person. After experiencing sexual trauma, one can have a number of reactions, ranging from confusion, guilt, or shame to anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Drs. Julia Bosson, Kate Thacher, and their colleagues at Union Square Practice bring compassion and years of experience to therapy for sexual assault and are ready to provide the support you need if you’ve experienced sexual trauma.

First and foremost, at Union Square Practice, counseling for sexual trauma involves a safe, confidential environment in which survivors can process their experiences with a caring, warm, and non-judgmental professional. While some survivors with PTSD might engage in evidence-based treatments like Prolonged Exposure or Cognitive Processing Therapy, others with depression might engage in general cognitive behavioral therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Treatment for Sexual Assault

I’m trying to forget about what happened to me—why would I spend time once a week specifically talking about it?

It is totally understandable to want to avoid memories of the assault. The problem is, that’s often impossible to do. If memories of your experience are haunting you—popping into your head like flashes when you don’t want them to—it’s likely because you haven’t had the chance to fully process your experience yet. While attempting to avoid these memories may seem to help in the short-run, it actually can make them worse in the long-run. By facing these memories head-on, you can begin to process them, organize them in your mind as an encapsulated event (rather than fragmented flashes of memories), and gain some perspective on them. In this way, you can start to gain control over your memories, rather than letting the memories control you.

I don’t trust anyone anymore—how am I supposed to trust a stranger to be my therapist?

Many survivors of sexual assault develop difficulties in trusting others, particularly when their assailant was an acquaintance or someone they thought they knew well. This hesitancy to trust others is a completely understandable response to assault. At Union Square Practice,  Dr. Bosson and Dr. Thacher and colleagues work hard to build trust with you and go as slowly as necessary to ensure that you feel comfortable and secure before moving on to more intense or trauma-focused parts of treatment. Remember that our goal is to get you feeling more like yourself, and working on relationships is an important component of that.

I’m embarrassed and convinced that this was my fault—won’t a therapist judge me for what happened?

The assault was undoubtedly NOT YOUR FAULT. It is very common for survivors of sexual trauma to believe that they are at fault for what happened, but the truth is that only one person is truly to blame, and that is the assailant. Therapy at Union Square Practice is completely judgment-free, meaning you can enter into treatment knowing that your therapist wants only to help you—not to make you feel worse about what you’ve experienced. Our experts have treated many individuals with sexual trauma and are accustomed to hearing about lots of different experiences, so there’s nothing you can say that will shock your therapist or make her judge you.

How does treatment for sexual assault work?

Exactly what happens in your meetings with us depends a bit upon what types of problems you are having after the assault. If you are facing anxiety, depression, or general difficulty adjusting after your experience, you might participate in cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves skill-building to identify and amend thinking and behavior patterns that might be maintaining your distress. If you are experiencing a specific reaction called Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, you might participate in Prolonged Exposure or Cognitive Processing Therapy, which involve confronting your memories of the assault and examining the way the assault has changed the way you think about yourself, others, and the world. You can read more about Dr. Bosson’s perspective on trauma treatment here, or Dr. Thacher’s general approach to therapy here.