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Research on the Processes Involved in Treating Sexual Offenders

NCJ Number
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2005 Pages: 117-125
Martin Drapeau
Date Published
April 2005
9 pages
This article summarizes preliminary findings from a series of pilot studies on samples of child molesters involved in an 8-month cognitive-behavioral (CBT) prison program.
The studies used the following measures: the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme Method, the Wish and Fear List, and the Defense Mechanism Rating Scale. Qualitative methods used included comparative analysis, plan analysis, and dynamic qualitative analysis, an approach developed by the author of this article. Results of the preliminary analysis are presented and discussed in the form of five questions: are therapists just "technicians" (offenders' perspective); does confronting the therapist mean treatment resistance; therapist, parent, or both; is the structure of the program important (offenders' perspective); and mastery in a prison setting? Offenders did not view therapists as just "technicians" but rather as individuals with personal traits. The patients' definition of a good therapist was one with confidence, strength, competence, and persuasiveness, but without being critical or devaluing. Regarding confrontations between therapists and patients, preliminary results suggest that overt confrontations are to be expected from offenders in group treatment, but they are not necessarily indicative of resistance. Offenders often stated they felt like children in group therapy, and it was not unusual for them to compare the therapist to parental figures. Offenders considered the structuring of the treatment program to be important, with a preference for well-structured programs with rules and procedures clarified and justified by the clinical staff. Mastery or autonomy is important in interactions with the therapist and the group. This means involving offenders in decisions about their treatment; however, once treatment decisions were made, it was important to the offenders that the therapist maintain control in complying with treatment procedures while continuing to respect the client. Still, an overcontrolling therapist will generate resistance in clients. 48 references