Psychological Society of South Africa, Article Critique Example

The psychological impact of child sexual abuse is a continuing focus of multiple studies every year as the medical community attempts to address the sociological and cultural impact that individual psychological disruption caused by CSA has on society.  In this article, a study was devised to utilize the concepts of Finkelhor and Browne.  These concepts clearly defined “four trauma-causing factors” labelled as the traumagenic dynamics.  This umbrella term covers the concepts of traumatic sexualisation, stigmatisation, betrayal and powerlessness” (Pretorius 63).  Furthermore, the authors of this particular study also sought to incorporate the therapeutic effects of art to help children girls between the ages of 8-11 help cope and communicate with the events they had recently been victims to.  Through using the Solomon four-group design, the researchers in this study were able to divide these young girls into four unique groups that focused on analyzing a different therapeutic technique as an intervention strategy.  Ultimately, the goal of this study was very important, but it had several flaws that caused many issues in the overall effectiveness of the study.

The first key issue that was obviously present was in the sample size of the study.  The researchers attempted to analyze artistic therapeutic techniques as intervention strategies using a small sample size of only twenty five young girls between the ages of 8-11.  Given the extent of the research that was being conducted, the researchers were able to obtain a series of quality results, but the usage of these results is highly limited to individual-specific interpretations and application as opposed to group-wide concrete application.  For the purposes of this article, this may have been an acceptable sample size, but it truly is only a precursor to re-creating the same study using a much larger sample size to draw better results that could potentially be used to determinate universally-applicable intervention strategies.  However, given the small sample size in this particular study, these results cannot be used for that purpose.

Another key issue is that the design of this study included a multitude of factors being researched where it is likely impossible to gain enough fundamental results to warrant any usage of any particular intervention strategy.  While the researchers were correct in using the Solomon four-group model, the small sample size again contributed to the production of poor results. However, the authors additionally compounded this error by also seeking to analyze group-art therapeutic intervention strategies on children who had never met each other previously and were only allotted a small period of time (8-weeks) to be incorporated in the group, develop trust, establish group cohesion and engage in positive relationships (Pretorius 70).  This error had the potential to cause disruption to the overall study as well as skewing the overall results.  However, the author failed to mention any negative results impacted by these factors and presented no comments to suggest that the length of time or the size of the groups were sufficient.

Despite these major issues with the study, the researchers did develop a clear subject matter, testable hypothesis, and included many key strategies previously used in similar studies.  The researchers also conducted pre- and post-tests for the girls involved in the study and were able to show that progress, although not universally-accepted, was made within each of the members of the four groups.


Pretorius, Gertie. “Group art therapy with sexually abused girls.” South African Journal of Psychology. 40.1 63-73. Print.