Focusing on SELF (Safety, Empowerment, Living Life Differently, and Forging a New You): Evaluating a New Approach toward Sexual Trauma Treatment for Military Service Members

Cristobal S. Berry-Caban, Sabrina S. Lewis, Lindsey N. Thielmann, Aletia L. Wilkins, Qwanquita T. Wright, Ashley Adams, Christopher J. Guenthner


Sexual assault is a pervasive problem in the United States military. The U.S. Department of Defense established the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office as the centralized helm of all sexual assault efforts. Their focus however, is on prevention, surveillance, and the reporting of sexual assault. Safety, Empowerment, Living Life Differently and Forging a New You (SELF) was designed at a large military treatment facility as a supplemental treatment option for female active-duty service members who require additional clinical services in an outpatient setting. SELF’s goal is to facilitate change and instill hope in trauma survivors by providing psychoeducation and utilizing evidenced-based interventions that focus on the developmental, psychological, and social impact of trauma. A total of 19 female active-duty soldiers completed all eight sessions. Pre- and post-test data were available for 23 participants. Numerical variables were reported in medians and interquartile ranges. All categorical variables were reported in counts and frequencies. Paired pre- and post- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL-5) differences were analyzed using the Wilcoxon Signed Rank and differences in initial PCL-5 score between attendance adherence groups were determined using the Kruskal Wallis test. Results show a mean decrease of 10 from baseline (p = .001). SELF may provide a supplement to current treatment modalities for survivors of sexual trauma.

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