This research explores the effect of incest on adolescents, according to the person-centred approach. The researcher was prompted by her observation of the escalating rate of incest in South Africa, and thus decided that an exploratory study on this theme was essential for social work practitioners. The literature study indicated that little research has been conducted on black children who are exposed to incest in South Africa. Therefore this research was conducted with the intention of exploring the effects of incest on adolescents according to the person-centred approach, in order to fill the gap in knowledge. A qualitative method was used to collect data. Ten unstructured interviews were conducted with two respondents, who were purposefully selected. All ten sessions are reflected in this thesis in order to indicate how the person-¬centred approach can be implemented. Data was analysed according to the nineteen propositions of the person-centred approach. The literature study revealed that the occurrence of incest is not limited to certain geographic regions and social classes, but that it covers a broad spectrum of occupations, income and racial groups. It also showed that incest perpetrators are mostly males with deviant sexual patterns, low self-esteem and poor social skills, that mothers in families where incest is likely to occur possess personality traits that somehow warrant an incestuous assault on their daughters by the father, that children who are at risk of being incest victims are children with low self-esteem and lack self-confidence and also that incest is actually a symptom of severe family dysfunction. This study showed that, irrespective of the time frame from the occurrence of the abuse, incest affects the emotional functioning of the victims and until dealt with, the emotions do not just disappear with time. Incest was found to affect the individuals' self-image and their interpersonal relationships. Incest also causes depression in the victims. The person-centred approach in dealing with incest victims is recommended in this study. This approach gives clients full control over the therapeutic process, which makes them feel respected and empowered. It focuses on the individual rather than the problem and enables clients to discover themselves through realizing and dealing with symbolised and unsymbolised experiences in their lives. The researcher also recommends that further research be conducted to see how the person-centred approach could best assist in giving therapy to families or groups where incest was experienced.
Dissertation (MA (Social Work))--University of Pretoria, 2007.