Child Abuse In Psychotherapy, Counseling & Nursing: Assessment & Reporting

Developed by Garry Cooper, LCSW
Course materials are available as articles.

Child abuse and neglect are a serious problem in our society. Its effects are long-term, may persist over generations, and affect the most vulnerable members of society. In recognition of the importance of clinicians being trained to recognize, report, and treat individuals and families involved in abuse and neglect, California and many other states require periodic training of clinicians. This 7 CE course is designed to meet California and several other states’ CE standards.

Clinicians will learn to not only identify the indications of child abuse and neglect–which range from subtle indicators to profound abuse–but equally important, to be sensitive to the dangers of making false accusations.

This intermediate course is in four parts. Part One provides both national and state definitions and statistics of child abuse and neglect. Part Two provides information on assessing and reporting child abuse and neglect, including the laws governing mandated reporting in California and other states. Part Three covers prevention and treatment. Part Four covers special considerations when working with Asian American and Native American children and families. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.


  • Child Walfare Information Gateway. (2017). Child abuse and neglectfatalities 2015: Statisticsand interventions. Retrieved from
  • Child Walfare Information Gateway. (2013). Definitions of child abuse and neglect. Retrieved from
  • Clancy, S. (2011). The trauma myth: The truth about the sexual abuse of children–and its aftermath. Arizona: Basic Books.

Educational Objectives

  • Distinguish the difference between child abuse and child neglect.
  • Describe the clinical dilemmas surrounding mandated reporting.
  • Identify and assess the indicators of various levels of child abuse and neglect.
  • Describe the prevalence of child abuse and neglect.
  • Summarize the requirements and procedures for mandated reporting.
  • Describe working with minorities and underserved groups, families and communities around issues of child abuse and neglect.
  • Review some common misconceptions and pitfalls of treatment, which can unintentionally increase the traumatic effects of sexual abuse.


  • Definitions of child abuse and neglect
    • Federal definitions
    • State definitions
  • Prevalence, nationally and by states
  • Mandated reporting
    • State by state requirements
    • Legal protections for reporters
  • Assessing child abuse and neglect
    • Recognizing signs of abuse and neglect
    • What to look for and do as a first responder
    • Pitfalls of leaping to premature conclusions
    • How to interview children
  • Prevention and treatment
    • How sexual predators attract children
    • Avoiding re-traumatization when treating children
  • Assessment and treatment with minority families
    • Asian American children and families
    • Korean children and families
    • Hispanic children and families