Project Intersect: Therapy Services for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children
The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is a severe and complex form of child sexual abuse. Youth who experience CSEC often have histories of multiple traumatic experiences, including sexual abuse, as well as the physical and sexual assault these youth experience while being commercially sexually exploited. Youth who experience CSEC experience high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, substance use concerns, suicidal ideation and self-injury. These youth are often involved in systems including child welfare and juvenile and/or criminal justice.
Since 2012, Project Intersect has been committed to improving the well-being of youth who experience CSEC and those at high risk. Project Intersect trains and supports a network of mental health providers across Georgia in trauma-focused and evidenced-based mental health interventions. These providers serve CSEC and their caregivers through the delivery of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), with adaptations specific to supporting this vulnerable population of youth.
Project Intersect provides outpatient therapy services at GCCA to youth in the Atlanta area who have experienced CSEC utilizing TF-CBT with CSEC adaptations. Youth experiencing CSEC and their protective caregivers participate in weekly 60 to 90-minute sessions. All therapy services are provided at no cost to families at GCCA.
Project Intersect also supports trauma-informed CSEC training and development for caregivers and professionals across child serving systems to better recognize and respond to the needs of CSEC. Systems are targeted that frequently intersect with CSEC and high-risk youth including Foster Care and Residential Treatment youth-serving organizations.
To address the complex needs of CSEC in Georgia, Project Intersect aims to:
- Increase access to TF-CBT, a trauma-focused, evidence-based mental health intervention, adapted for the needs of CSEC and their families throughout all 13 DFCS regions in Georgia, including adaptations:
- For youth of color who experience CSEC and racial trauma
- For youth at high-risk of CSEC
- For CSEC and those at high-risk addressing the intersections of trauma and substance use
- Improve caregiver knowledge of traumatic stress, trauma-informed care, trauma-focused treatment, and CSEC to better identify and achieve safe, supportive, and sustained home environments for CSEC.
- Improve professional workforce knowledge and skills regarding traumatic stress, trauma-informed care, trauma-focused treatment, and CSEC to better respond to the needs of CSEC, particularly CSEC-specific residential programs.
Project Intersect is funded by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and is an initiative of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. All services and training are provided at no cost to families or providers as a result of generous funding from SAMHSA. For more information about Project Intersect, click here.