The aim of this dissertation was to synthesize information from the empirical literature, existing organizations related to sexually exploited minors (SEMs), and information collected through feedback from mental health professionals (MHPs) on their child sexual abuse (CSA) and commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) training experiences, gaps, and needs in order to produce an introductory training webinar module introducing MHPs to the foundational sociocultural and strengths-based treatment considerations while working with SEMs. The thirst for specific and evidence-based interventions from MHPs speaks to the lack of training, established standards of care, and best practices for working with SEMs. Further, the limited strengths-based training among surveyed MHPs along with the importance of adaptive skill building and empowering of vulnerable and marginalized populations amplified the need to use a strengths-based perspective. Through this introductory level training, MHPs can begin to acquire a basic understanding and appreciation of SEMs’ unique needs along with foundational skills and approaches for providing services for child survivors of CSE. The developed SEMs webinar was evaluated by an expert to receive recommendations for enhancing the webinar training and ensuring accuracy, relevance, and applicability for MHPs who work with or plan to work with SEMs in the United States. Future directions for developing the webinar training are discussed, including establishing best practices for working with CSE survivors, especially minors; creating a specialty of working with SEMs within the field; and the aggregation of existing resources into a cohesive community of specialized MHPs and allies to effectively serve the needs of SEMs across different cultures.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Cooperation; Computer conferencing; Sexually abused children -- Treatment

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Harrell, Shelly P.;