Psychological treatment of sex offenders

Corrections Research, Public Safety Canada, 340 Laurier Ave., West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0P8, Canada, .
Current Psychiatry Reports (Impact Factor: 3.24). 03/2013; 15(3):348. DOI: 10.1007/s11920-012-0348-x
Source: PubMed


This article reviews the research evidence, practice guidelines and accreditation standards for the psychological treatment of individuals who commit sexually motivated crimes. Overall, the sexual offender treatment outcome research is not well developed, which limits strong conclusions. There is, however, strong research evidence concerning the effectiveness of interventions for general (non-sexual) offenders. Given the considerable overlap in risk factors for sexual and general offending, the "what works" principles for general offenders provide useful guidelines for sexual offender treatment. Specifically, the intensity of treatment should be proportional to the offender's risk level (risk principle), treatment should focus on characteristics associated with recidivism risk (i.e., criminogenic needs; need principle), and be tailored to the learning style and abilities of clients (responsivity principle). Examples of promising new approaches to sexual offender treatment are provided.

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