Psychosexual Assessment

Children are sometimes exposed to sexual activity before they are developmentally prepared.   One result can be that they exhibit inappropriate sexual behaviors toward other children or adults.   Such sexual reactivity can be quite distressing for all concerned.   It is important to remember that many children are erotisized without becoming offenders, so we should be careful to avoid labeling these children as perpetrators.   Without intervention, redirection, and therapy, some of these children can continue to exhibit inappropriate sexual behaviors as adolescents or adults.

Psychosexual assessment requires an in-depth understanding of normal child and adolescent development, as well as normal sexual behavior.   Remember, it is normal for a child to have a healthy curiosity about sex and body parts.   Don't be alarmed when same-age children play doctor with one another.   Do be concerned if several red flags appear consistently in a child.  Not all sexually reactive children act out because of overt sexual abuse.   Some imitate pornography that may belong to a household member.   Some mimic what they may spy in their own parents' or teenage sibling's bedroom.   Sexuality is, to a large degree, learned behavior.   Therefore, we must keep in mind that children will experiment with their sexuality and with sexual behavior towards other children.   When such behavior becomes problematic, or when possible exploitation is suspected, a psychosexual evaluation can help determine the nature of behaviors, as well as make concrete recommendations for treatment, when appropriate.

Within this developmental perspective, age-approproate test instruments and in-depth clinical interviews are used to gather information in the psychosexual assessment.

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