TCD Book Review: The Sexual Healing Journey

Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on TCD Book Review: The Sexual Healing Journey

The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse, 3rd Edition, by Wendy Maltz, LCSW

It is not unusual for adult survivors of sexual abuse to have problems with sexual antipathy. This is generally due to the fact that sexuality has become closely linked to the abuse they suffered.

A lot of times, people will feel ashamed, embarrassed, and uncomfortable when it comes to sex. There are a lot of negative connotations and behaviors that go along with their sexual feelings. Sometimes a person who has endured sexual abuse may show signs of avoidance or acting out. He or she may also embrace problematic attitudes and beliefs like “sex is bad,” or “I’m bad” for simply being interested in sex.

Wendy Maltz’s first edition of The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse was originally written in the late 1980s. Now, some three decades later, the book is in its third edition and a solid source of information on the topic.

Maltz has worked extensively with sexual abuse survivors in her own family. She originally wrote this book to help them, as there was no particularly helpful resource available to aid sexual abuse victims and their partners at the time.

One of the features of the book I appreciate most is that the author addresses both male and female abuse survivors. Her writing style is both very sensitive and very detailed. While she does a good job of providing concrete examples and case studies, the down-to-earth manner in which she shares the information prevents the book from feeling too abstract or academic. Readers will likely find it easy to read and relate to.

Basically, the core idea of the book is that healing from sexual abuse is an empowering process. It is a process that involves building new attitudes regarding sex, and learning new approaches to healthy touch and intimacy.

Maltz’s approach will work best for people who:

  • Acknowledge and are ready to address the abuse
  • Want to make changes for themselves
  • Have solid support systems (partner, family therapist, etc.)

The Sexual Healing Journey includes the following detailed list, and exploration of Maltz’s eight steps to healing:

  1. Acknowledge the past sexual abuse and how it has affected the person’s sexuality.
  2. Create a new meaning for sex
  3. Develop a healthy sense of sexual self-esteem
  4. Recognize and handle automatic responses occurring during intimacy
  5. Stop negative sexual behaviors that reenact sexual abuse or interfere with recovery
  6. Work on healing with the person’s partner (if applicable)
  7. Engage in experiential exercises designed to help people relearn intimate touch
  8. Address any sexual dysfunction that exists

Aside from Maltz’s ability to write a helpful, inclusive and comprehensive body of work, another important advantage of her book is that it does not simply modify traditional sex therapy techniques and apply them to sexual abuse situations.

Her eight steps for healing were developed specifically for abuse survivors, and speak to their unique needs. For example, the experiential exercises explored in step seven are meant to help people get reacquainted with touch and intimacy, but are not sexual at all. Instead, they are designed to help people feel safe and okay with touch in general.

Overall, I appreciate Wendy Maltz’s efforts to provide a substantive and accessible resource. I often recommend this book to clients wanting to deal with sexual abuse and intimacy and consider The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse a worthy read.

To learn more about Wendy Maltz, her approach to sexual abuse, or how to obtain a copy of the book, please try the following link: Healthy




Online Therapy Available NowRead More