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Digital Seminar

Sexually Exploited Children and Adolescents: Victim Identification, Assessment and Trauma-Informed Treatment Strategies

Katheen Leilani Ja Sook Bergquist, JD, PhD, JCSW
5 Hours 56 Minutes
Nov 06, 2018
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Digital Seminar
Never expires.


Are there kids on your caseload that your gut tells you something is not right? Often that is the first clue clinicians have that a child is being trafficked. Parents miss it, educators miss it, and unfortunately too many therapists miss the telltale signs. This workshop will immerse you in the experiences of commercially sexually exploited youth and provide you with competencies to work effectively from a trauma-informed perspective.

In this recording, learn from Kathleen Leilani Ja Sook Bergquist, JD, PhD, LCSW, as she draws on more than 20 years of working with survivors of sexual assault. Dr. Bergquist will show you effective clinical strategies to:

  • Identify trafficked children and adolescents
  • Work with youth that are often justice-involved and/or in foster care
  • Break the trauma bond that allows the trafficker to control the child
  • Identify trauma-specific evidence-based approaches, there is no one approach fits all!

Working with these children can be complex, they often don’t see themselves as victims, and unprepared but well-intended clinicians can replace the trafficker from the youth’s perspective. As a clinician, there is nothing more rewarding than helping youth free themselves from the trauma bond of those who exploit them.


- PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This online program is worth 6.0 hours CPD for points calculation by your association.



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Kathleen Leilani Ja Sook Bergquist, JD, PhD, LCSW, has spent over 20 years working with survivors of sexual trauma to include childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault and sex trafficking. Her work has been as a psychotherapist specializing in trauma and an attorney. The recent “discovery” of sex trafficking has spurred her to be an advocate and educator about sexual exploitation. Dr. Bergquist teaches a graduate course on human trafficking at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ School of Social Work where she is on faculty and has been called on as an expert in criminal mitigation cases and to train law enforcement, domestic violence providers, clinicians, and community stakeholders. She is also the clinical director of the Rape Crisis Center in Las Vegas, NV that works with survivors of all sexual violence including sex trafficking. Dr. Bergquist is a proponent for an ecological holistic approach to working with clients, focusing on the client as a whole within context, and not just treating the trauma.
Dr. Bergquist is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She earned her Juris Doctorate at the Boyd School of Law, UNLV; PhD in counselor education at the College of William and Mary; and her MSW at Norfolk State University.


Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Kathleen Leilani Ja Sook Bergquist is an associate professor at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Kathleen Leilani Ja Sook Bergquist is a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC); National Association of Social Workers (NASW); National Association of Social Work – Nevada; and Nevada Bar Association.


  1. Identify the signs that a child has been trafficked and determine a proper treatment plan.
  2. Create the appropriate therapeutic environment to enable the best clinical outcomes for a trafficking survivor.
  3. Summarize federal laws specific to human trafficking and identify how this information could impact clinical treatment.
  4. Utilize a strength-based treatment approach for clinical issues such as PTSD, complex trauma and trauma bond.
  5. Determine how to facilitate post traumatic growth among childhood survivors of sex trafficking.
  6. Explore the role of the clinician in supporting clients’ rights to self-determination, safety and well-being.


Sex Trafficking of Youth
  • Legal and clinical definitions
    • Federal and state laws
    • Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)
    • Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC)
    • Sexually Exploited Youth (SEY)
  • Risk factors for sex trafficking
    • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
    • Average age of entry
    • Lack of psychosocial development
    • Specific vulnerabilities
    • Limited support in environment
Assessment and Red Flags
  • Tools or screening for identifying victims of DMST
  • Cluster of behaviors and/or social contexts that are indicators of trafficking
Trauma Bond: “Superglue of Sexual Exploitation” and Moral Injury
  • Psychological underpinnings of entry to trafficking
  • Understanding traffickers/pimps
  • Psychological processes of grooming victims
  • Why victims stay, why they return
Treating the Trauma of Trafficking
  • Evidence-based treatment for traumatic stress (e.g. TF-CBT, EMDR)
  • Strengths-based treatment approaches (e.g. CBT, resiliency, client as expert)
  • Trauma-informed care v. trauma-specific services
  • Treatment matching for different types of trafficking
Post-Traumatic Growth: Transformation from Victim to Survivor
  • Discover strengths by working through the trauma (Tedeschi & Calhoun)
  • Resiliency v. post-traumatic growth
  • Critical questions; perceived v. actual growth
  • Case examples: From trauma to recovery
Potential Treatment Obstacles and What to do About Them
  • Lack of trust in providers and law enforcement
  • The power of trauma bond
  • Risk of returning to trafficking
  • Instability of care
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • Contradictions between client-centered practice and legal/law enforcement needs (i.e. detention v. safe house)
  • Laws that impact trafficking victims
    • Safe harbor laws
    • Age of consent for minors
    • Prosecution of trafficking cases
  • Role of the clinician in supporting clients’ rights to self-determination, safety and well-being

Target Audience

  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers
  • Counselors
  • Caseworkers
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Psychotherapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • School Psychologists
  • School Social Workers
  • School Counselors
  • Other mental health professionals who work with children


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