Title page for ETD etd-07232008-132444

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Oelofsen, Melanie
Email melanie.oelofsen@hotmail.com
URN etd-07232008-132444
Document Title The use of Gestalt therapy as an alternative assessment technique with primary school girls who have been sexually abused
Degree MEd (Educational Psychology)
Department Curriculum Studies
Advisor Name Title
Dr L Ebersöhn Co-Supervisor
Dr F Ferreira Supervisor
  • educational psychological intervention
  • Gestalt therapy
  • psychosocial support
  • Primary school girls
  • qualitative research
  • sexual abuse
  • clinical case study
  • alternative assessment
  • psychotherapy outcome research
  • interpretivism
Date 2007-09-06
Availability unrestricted

The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the use of Gestalt therapy as an alternative assessment technique with two primary school girls who have been sexually abused. The empirical study of limited extent, was qualitative in nature and conducted from the interpretivist paradigm. I used two indepth clinical case studies situated within the context of psychotherapy outcome research as research design. I developed and implemented alternative assessment based on Gestalt therapy and employed observation, interviews, informal discussions, analysis of documentation, a reflective diary, field notes and visual data (photographs and original media) as data collection and documentation methods. I purposefully selected two primary school girls who have been sexually abused as participants in the study.

The findings of the study were, firstly, that Gestalt therapy could be used as an effective alternative assessment technique with the target participants as it seemingly provided a safe setting to express emotions, fears and needs related to the trauma of sexual abuse. In this regard, a finding was that the primary participants had to deal with challenging emotions including anxiety, fear, aggression, anger, hatred, rage, sadness and depression. A related finding was that they experienced a need for love, unconditional acceptance, support and protection. Similarly, the study found that they also displayed negative behaviour such as inadequate social behaviour, restlessness and withdrawal from challenging social situations. Most importantly, utilising this mode of assessment rendered insight into the defence mechanisms they employed such as denial, avoidance, suppression and escapism. Secondly, alternative assessments based on Gestalt therapy seemed to have a positive effect on both participants, as indicated by change during and after the process of assessment in terms of emotions, behaviour and the use of defence mechanisms.

© University of Pretoria 2007

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