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      Forensic Interviews With Children Victims of Sexual Abuse: The Role of the Counselling Psychologist


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          Although there is plenty of literature on the consequences of child sexual abuse, little research has been conducted regarding the risk of secondary victimization when a child victim testifies as a witness throughout the preliminary proceeding to the police, as well as the hearing in the court room. Even today, the credibility of the testimony of a child witness is strongly questioned. Child witnesses are often treated with greater distrust than adult witnesses as, according to traditional views, they don't have the same observing and mnemonic ability, they are more vulnerable to leading questions and they have difficulty in distinguishing reality from fantasy as well as truth from lie. The whole of literature emphasizes the responsibility of the interviewer who will determine the course of the interview and have a significant effect upon the disclosure procedure. His personal characteristics as well as his specialized knowledge and counselling skills will play a major role. Studies have demonstrated that empathy, patience, calm, sensitivity and warmth on the part of the interviewer are instrumental in rapport building and effective communication with the child. These qualities play a crucial role in obtaining a credible testimony and, at the same time, protecting the child from the risk of secondary victimization. The referred case study displays the need for the application of appropriate forensic interview techniques, as well as for the participation, specifically, of a counselling psychologist, as opposed to any mental health professional.

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          Most cited references57

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          Sexual abuse in a national survey of adult men and women: Prevalence, characteristics, and risk factors

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            Suggestibility of the child witness: a historical review and synthesis.

            The field of children's testimony is in turmoil, but a resolution to seemingly intractable debates now appears attainable. In this review, we place the current disagreement in historical context and describe psychological and legal views of child witnesses held by scholars since the turn of the 20th century. Although there has been consistent interest in children's suggestibility over the past century, the past 15 years have been the most active in terms of the number of published studies and novel theorizing about the causal mechanisms that underpin the observed findings. A synthesis of this research posits three "families" of factors--cognitive, social, and biological--that must be considered if one is to understand seemingly contradictory interpretations of the findings. We conclude that there are reliable age differences in suggestibility but that even very young children are capable of recalling much that is forensically relevant. Findings are discussed in terms of the role of expert witnesses.
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              The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Woman Battering

              J. EDLESON (1999)

                Author and article information

                Eur J Couns Psych
                The European Journal of Counselling Psychology
                Eur. J. Couns. Psych.
                28 March 2014
                : 3
                : 1
                : 1-19
                [a ]Department of Psychology, University of Crete, Rethymnon, Greece
                [b ]Youth Counselling Centre, Department of Secondary Education, Heraklion, Greece
                Author notes
                [* ]Department of Psychology, University of Crete, 741 00, Gallos, Rethymnon, Greece. themeli@ 123456uoc.gr

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 28 June 2013
                : 01 November 2013
                Self URI (journal-page): https://journals.psychopen.eu/

                disclosure,empathy,rapport building,secondary victimization,child sexual abuse,forensic interview


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