Need for an Expanded Information-Processing Model and Treatment Approach

The concurrent presence of PTSD symptomatology and pervasive maladaptive schemata in childhood sexual abuse survivors raises important clinical issues for conceptualization and treatment. Although a number of theories have been offered to explain posttraumatic symptoms in individuals traumatized as adults, an expanded information-processing model which addresses underlying cognitive schemata as well as intrusive aspects of the posttraumatic syndrome could significantly broaden our understanding of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and enhance the development of more effective treatment strategies with this “therapy-resistant” population.
If the “meanings” of childhood abuse trauma are reconceptualized to include early-acquired, ingrained schemata which influence subsequent perceptions and behavior (for one such schema-focused approach, see McCann & Pearlman, 1990b), current theories and therapies which focus on early maladaptive schemas might be readily integrated into an information-processing model similar to that proposed by Foa and Kozak (1986).

Mervin Smucker