PROVO, UTAH — Researchers at Brigham Young University recently recognized The Younique Foundation for the efficacy of The Haven Retreat in treating trauma symptoms resulting from child sexual abuse. The study 1 is the first published study that focuses on the effectiveness of retreat interventions for the treatment of child sexual abuse (page 3). It was also accepted for publication in the Research on Social Work Practice journal.
After hosting more than 3,000 survivors at The Haven Retreat since 2015, this study is a major milestone that represents years of hard work for The Younique Foundation and its staff. It also encourages additional examination into The Younique Foundation’s clinical interventions and outcomes.
The Need to Understand Child Sexual Abuse Interventions and Outcomes
1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before age 18, and many of those survivors carry the effects of that trauma well into adulthood.
“Given the prevalence and consequences of sexual abuse, it behooves mental health professionals to understand what types of interventions are effective for sexual abuse survivors,” the study states (page 1).
CSA treatments are most often administered via individual and group psychotherapy. However, founders of The Younique Foundation (TYF) theorized that an emerging form of treatment could be beneficial to survivors of CSA. This new type of treatment consisted of intervention retreats, where numerous individuals could gather for a short period of time.
Researchers state: “Retreat interventions present numerous benefits that could be applied to CSA treatment, such as (a) being able to treat a larger number of clients; (b) shorter treatment duration; (c) the possibility of lower dropout rates, given the short duration and off-site setting; and (d) potential cost-effectiveness for treatment agencies.” (page 3)
Study Confirms Significant Reduction in PTSD Symptoms
After hosting hundreds of retreats since TYF’s founding, staff clinicians approached Dr. David Wood, a professor of social work at Brigham Young University (BYU), to independently review retreat outcomes and to investigative the effectiveness of the retreat. Wood’s team, comprised of master’s student Kaitlin Ward and former The Younique Foundation clinician Troy Young, hypothesized that retreat participants would report a decrease in PTSD symptoms related to the abuse they endured, as well as an increase in life satisfaction, social support, and coping self-efficacy.
Using 2018 retreat participant data, researchers validated the effectiveness of TYF’s retreat interventions. The study states: “in accordance with study hypotheses, we found that individuals who participated in the retreat intervention exhibited a significant decrease in PTSD and an increase in life satisfaction, social support, and coping self-efficacy.” (page 7)
- Most notably, researchers found that, on average, participants: 2
- experienced a 37% reduction of PTSD symptoms.
- reported a 19% higher efficacy in their ability to cope with their traumatic experience.
- saw a 45% improvement in levels of life satisfaction.
- had a 5% increase in their level of social support.
These positive effects survivors experienced were shown to persist for one year post-retreat participation.
The study goes on to say, “As a whole, our study provides one of the first empirical findings that suggest retreat interventions could reduce PTSD symptoms and increase levels of life satisfaction, social sup- port, and coping self-efficacy in adult survivors of CSA.” (page 7)
A Path Forward for Child Sexual Abuse Treatment
As this study is one of the first of its kind, the “findings encourage further study of the effectiveness of retreat interventions for CSA survivors.” (page 8)
Furthermore, it encourages TYF staff to continue the important work they do to help survivors find hope and healing, both at The Haven Retreat and behind the scenes.
The Younique Foundation is extremely grateful to the research team—Dr. David Wood, Kaitlin Ward, and Troy Young—for their work on this study. We are also humbled by the Research on Social Work Practice’s choice to publish the study and further validate the work being done at The Haven Retreat. We also want to thank all staff members—past and present—who have helped design and execute The Haven Retreat.