Skip to Main ContentCenter for Sex Offender Management, Supervision of Sex Offenders in the Community: A Training Curriculum
A Project of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice
  OverviewIssues & CautionsUser's GuideRecommended ReadingsDownload CenterSearch
Site Map
Long Version
Innovative Approaches
Components of Supervision
Sex Offender-Specific Treatment
Practical Supervision Strategies
Evaluation Form
Medium Version
Short Version
Other CSOM Curricula
Start of Main Content
Long Version
Section 4: Lecture Content and Teaching Notes
Sex Offender Specific Treatment in the Context of Supervision

2 hours

(15 minutes)


What can a probation agency or officer reasonably expect from a sex offender treatment provider? Practice around the country suggests that, increasingly, sex offender treatment providers have philosophies that support—

  • Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #21: What to Expect From a Sex Offender Treatment Provider
    [Click to Enlarge]

    Note: You may want to refer participants to the materials distributed during Section 3 of this curriculum-statewide standards from Colorado and Arizona that speak to qualifications and expectations for treatment providers as one indicator of practice.

    Teamwork: They are willing to collaborate with others, especially probation/parole officers, victim representatives, polygraph examiners, prosecutors and defense attorneys;
  • Community safety: They are willing to view the community (especially victims and potential victims) as the client;
  • Limited confidentiality: They are willing to share information openly with the supervising officer and other stakeholders who are responsible for sex offender supervision; and
  • Evaluation: They are interested in having their work evaluated and in making an evaluation component part of their practice

Supervising officers are often in the best position to choose the most appropriate treatment provider for a given client. It's important that the officer and treatment provider have similar philosophical views on sex offender management, such as sharing all information, prioritizing community safety above all else, participating in a "team" management approach, and being willing to accept feedback from other team members regarding treatment progress and efficacy.


Keep in mind that most graduate schools do not teach students how to evaluate or treat sex offenders. Therefore it's important that officers look for treatment providers who have experience and/or recent specialized training in the areas of sex offender evaluation, treatment, and victim issues and who update their training frequently as this is a rapidly changing field.

Use Slide # SymbolUse Slides #22-23: Monitoring Treatment and Providers
[Click to Enlarge]
In assessing the quality of a given treatment provider's services, officers should take into account the quality of the written reports received from the provider. The provider should be willing to meet regularly with the officer to discuss new cases, issues arising regarding a particular offender, and work on solving systemic problems.

One of the best ways for an officer to assess the quality of a provider's work is to watch him or her in action, in group. The officer can then view the content of the group:

  • Are they on task?
  • Is there an agenda?
  • Does the treatment provider allow offenders to spend too much time on nonoffense-related issues?

Of equal importance is the process of the group:

  • Does everyone participate or are some members allowed to remain silent?
  • Are group members confronted but still treated with respect?

The provider should notify the officer anytime there is cause for concern and be willing to meet immediately when there are emergency situations. The provider should also be willing to listen to and incorporate community concerns regarding the program. Providers should also be willing to communicate and collaborate with the victim's and nonoffending partner's therapist(s), particularly in cases of family offenses.

Officers should also consider the differences between programs that have stated graduation criteria and fixed timeframe programs. If offenders don't have specific criteria to achieve for treatment completion and just have to "put in time," how much work will they really put in to long-term change?

Use Slide # SymbolUse Slide #24: Treatment Providers Must Deal With
[Click to Enlarge]
Finally, officers need to take into account the personal qualities of the treatment provider. Not everyone is cut out for this line of work. Just like officers, treatment providers must deal with:

  • Domination;
  • Manipulation;
  • Anger;
  • Aggressive outbursts;
  • Depression;
  • Self-defeating behaviors;
  • A variety of skill deficits;
  • Family education;
  • Victim issues; and
  • Ongoing risk assessment.

This requires a treatment provider with some very special characteristics:

  • Refer to Handout Symbol Refer to handout: Characteristics of an Effective Sex Offender Treatment Provider is included among the participant materials for the long version of Section 4 of this curriculum.
    Able to set limits with clients;
  • Comfortable confronting clients and holding them accountable for their behavior;
  • Comfortable discussing sex;
  • Comfortable with his or her own sexuality;
  • Good relationships with men and women;
  • Good self-esteem;
  • Comfortable working with sex offenders and their offense behavior;
  • Comfortable challenging distorted views of men and women;
  • Willing to work without developing a trusting relationship with the client;
  • Knowledgeable about child abuse reporting laws;
  • Aware that he or she can be duped;
  • Ability to remain assertive while being confronted with client's hostility;
  • Ability to avoid talking about personal information with clients;
  • Does not need acceptance from clients;
  • Not intimidated by lawsuits;
  • Able to separate out own problems from client's need to change in those areas;
  • Comfortable with involuntary clients;
  • Willing to work with limited confidentiality;
  • Willing to monitor client's behavior outside treatment;
  • Knowledgeable of criminal justice system and victims;
  • Able to cope with stress;
  • Able to attend to details;
  • Able to maintain objectivity; and
  • Possesses the ethics and integrity to work in a court system—
    • *ATSA is the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1984. More information can be found at its Web site:
      Knowledge/adherence to ATSA* standards;
    • Knowledge/adherence to ethics of discipline; and
    • Open, honest relationship with treatment team.
Discussion Question? Discussion Question: Are there any others you'd like to add?