Section 3: Assessment
2 Hours

Lecture Topic TOPIC: ASSESSMENT

Part IV: Psychosexual Evaluations

General Issues

The psychosexual evaluation, sometimes referred to as a juvenile sex offense–specific evaluation, is another influential assessment that can inform and enhance juvenile sex offender management efforts.

Use SlideUse Slide #25: Psychosexual Evaluation

Its name signifies a very important point. That is, a psychosexual evaluation is not the same as a psychological evaluation. Although there are some areas of overlap—which we will talk about in just a moment—the psychosexual evaluation is geared toward providing a very detailed focus on sexual development, sexual attitudes, sexual interests, and sexual behaviors that are both “normal” and “deviant” in nature. Because of the specialized nature of this type of assessment, a well–trained evaluator with specialized expertise is essential—and specialization can take multiple forms in this instance.33

Filling these criteria is a tall order, isn’t it? But think about the implications of an evaluator doing this work without specialization in these domains. What might happen then?

(ALLOW FOR AUDIENCE RESPONSES.)

That’s right. Uninformed evaluators create poor quality evaluations, which lead to ineffective and inappropriate recommendations and interventions. The end result, though unintentional, may be compromised victim and community safety, or even harm to the youth or family.

Another issue that warrants careful consideration when conducting psychosexual evaluations of juvenile sex offenders involves the timing of the assessment. Specifically, forensic evaluators may be called upon to conduct these assessments prior to the adjudication phase to assist juvenile and family court judges and other system actors with decisionmaking. However, conducting an evaluation at this phase of the court process has the potential to raise some very important ethical and legal concerns.35

Use SlideUse Slide #26: Ideally Conducted Post–Adjudication

Therefore, to avoid these controversies, it may be best to conduct the psychosexual evaluation following adjudication and prior to the disposition.37 That way, the key goals of the psychosexual evaluation—to assist key stakeholders with making informed decisions at the point of disposition, and to provide guidance for the development of effective treatment and supervision plans—remain clear.

Sometimes, however, defense attorneys and prosecutors reach agreements prior to disposition that may allow the evaluation to be conducted pre–adjudication. For example, when the youth admits the allegations are true, both parties may be willing to stipulate to a guilty plea and agree to support the recommendations offered in the psychosexual evaluation. In addition, to accelerate the resolution of some cases, the prosecutor may agree to waive any additional charges that would have been considered if additional disclosures are made during the course of the evaluation process, provided that the youth and his or her family agree to participate in offense–specific treatment or other services as recommended. Under these kinds of circumstances, the ethical and legal questions may be less of a concern, and it may be less controversial to conduct the evaluation prior to the formal adjudication. Be aware, though, that even in these instances, some youth may still be hesitant to open up—at least initially—because they had been previously told by their attorneys not to talk to anyone about what they had done. When that happens, it might even be helpful for a youth’s attorney to give the youth “permission” to participate fully in the assessment process.

Use SlideUse Slide #27: Informed Consent

As is always the case, even when the evaluations are court–ordered, it is important that the evaluator carefully explain their role in the process, the specific approaches and procedures that will be used, any potential risks and benefits associated with participating (or refusing to participate) in the evaluation process, the limits of confidentiality, and the way in which the assessment findings may be used throughout the court process.38 Put simply, informed consent of the youth and the parent/guardian is a critical first step in the evaluation process.

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