Treatment of prostitution using integrative therapy techniques: A case study

Maria Napoli, Karen Gerdes, Shelly DeSouza-Rowland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Scopus citations


    This case study examines a pattern we believe to be common among female prostitutes: a woman ("Bonnie") who, like most prostitutes, is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Bonnie's prostitution is part of the unconscious 'repetition compulsion' common in trauma victims; by prostituting herself, Bonnie re-creates the scenario of sexual abuse that occurred during her childhood, while maintaining an illusion of control over the situation. We maintain that an effective approach to treatment for Bonnie is integrative therapy, a type of psychological counseling designed to address the major aftereffects of sexual abuse: dissociation from the body and sexuality in general; a profound sense of powerlessness; critically low valuation of the self; and mistrust and fear of intimacy. Bonnie's story shows the dynamics of both prostitute behavior and integrative therapy, providing an example we believe to be applicable far beyond this case study.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)71-87
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Contemporary Psychotherapy
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2001


    • integrative therapy
    • post-traumatic stress disorder
    • prostitution

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Clinical Psychology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health


    Dive into the research topics of 'Treatment of prostitution using integrative therapy techniques: A case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this