Healing from sexual abuse

Child & Adolescent Psychologist, Preetpal Sandhu, MD, shares advice for parents on the best way to help your child heal from sexual abuse and trauma
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Healing from sexual abuse

If your child or you just found out that your child has been a victim of sexual abuse, it is really important to be extremely supportive during that time. When you find out, it is important to validate their fears and validate their concerns. After that, it is also important to get them help. And that help has to come from someone who is very clearly trained in working with kids and is trained in working with kids who have experienced trauma. The types of interventions that are usually used oftentimes can actually make your child get worse before they get better. So in the long run, they will get better but when they start to confront or deal with the traumatic and stressful event, in this case the sexual abuse, they can get worse. So it is important to prepare for the time period and not to engage your child in therapy when there is going to be a lot of other stressors going on in their lives. So during finals week or not during their playoff game for basketball. But it is important when you do have some free time to engage them with a therapist who actually will go through what we call a trauma narrative. And that actually involves going through in almost painful detail, actually not almost painful. It is painful. Detail, exactly what happened during the sexual abuse or during that trauma. Things from what type of cologne the person who molested me was wearing, what types of shirt they had on. Those types of details become extremely important in figuring out what triggers that anxiety the next time the child experiences it. In sum, if your child is a victim of sexual abuse, it is important to find a trained professional who can help them process the emotions associated with it and process that trauma. A big part of that will be creating a trauma narrative and if your child gets worse during the beginning phases of treatment, that is to be expected. Eventually, they will start to improve.

Child & Adolescent Psychologist, Preetpal Sandhu, MD, shares advice for parents on the best way to help your child heal from sexual abuse and trauma


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Preetpal Sandhu, MD

Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist

Dr. Sandhu is a UCLA-trained, Board Certified Psychiatrist who has practiced Psychiatry at UCLA and in Beverly Hills for several years. He did his undergraduate work at UCLA where he was named to Phi Beta Kappa. He then completed medical school at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine and was named a Dean's scholar. He also received a master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business where he was named to the Dean's list.

Dr. Sandhu then pursued training in Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles, Neuropsychiatric Institute (now named the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior). While at UCLA completing his residency and fellowship he was named the Chief Fellow of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry training program. He then proceeded to work at UCLA as part of the Attending Staff on the Child and Adolescent Inpatient unit. He is a member in good standing of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists (AACAP) and has served as the Southern California Regional Organization’s President.

His areas of interest include attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and the roles coordinated psychiatry and psychotherapy can have in jointly improving outcomes.

Dr. Sandhu lives in the Los Angeles area with his family and is actively involved in teaching medical students, residents, and fellows at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, snowboarding, basketball, golf, video games, and travel.

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