Psychotherapy for sex offenders38
Psychotherapy is intended not to decrease or change sexual arousal, but to help the patient understand and control his behavior.
- The therapist should maintain a helping role modeled on the parent-child relationship by showing respect, interest, and understanding. He encourages openness and honesty on the part of the patient.
- This parent-like role gives the therapist the power to influence the patient positively, and to interpret his self-defeating behavior and distorted beliefs about reality.
- The patient must be able and willing to profit from it. Since offenders are assumed to suffer from denial, lack of motivation to change, and unwillingness to cooperate with voluntary treatment, individual psychotherapy is generally thought to be ineffective.
- Suspicion and lack of rapport in the criminal justice context also interfere with effective use of the method.
- There are few reports on individual psychotherapy with sex offenders against children.
- Group psychotherapy gives members the opportunity to share experiences, gain insight, learn to control unacceptable impulses, and find acceptance.
- It has been more commonly used than individual psychotherapy.
- Effectiveness is unknown. There have been no replicable, controlled studies. One review found that studies were based on contradictory premises, could not be replicated due to vague descriptions, were not based on any theoretical understanding of adult-minor sexual behavior, did not include sufficient follow-up, and included vague assessments of effectiveness.