A Project of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice

Long Version
Section 4: An Overview of Sex Offender Treatment for a Non–Clinical Audience
A National Perspective on the Current State of Practice
30 minutes

(5 minutes)

Community vs. Residential Treatment Programs for Adult Males

As you can see from this next slide, more than four out of five sex offender treatment programs for males in North America are community–based rather than residential. Further, while residential programs comprise only a fraction of all treatment programs, most residential programs are located in prisons.

It should be noted that most states do offer some form of treatment in their institutions. In a study that focused on institutional sex offender treatment programs, the Colorado Department of Corrections surveyed the 50 states to find out about their prison–based programs. Responses were received from 43 states and the District of Columbia. Findings indicated that in the year 2000, 39 states had sex offender treatment programs in their institutions and 30 of these had wait lists for program entry. The number of sex offenders that could be treated in these programs ranged from 70 to 1,200. Most of these programs’ duration lasted longer than one year. Additionally, 12 states require treatment for some categories of sex offenders.

Use SlideUse Slide #5: Community vs. Residential Treatment Programs for Adult Males

Use SlideUse Slide #6: State Correctional Treatment Programs

Use SlideUse Slide #7: Sex Offender Treatment Approaches Utilized for Adult Males in the Community

Sex Offender Treatment Approaches for Adult Males in the Community

Treatment Approach Percentage of Programs
Cognitive–behavioral 92%
Relapse prevention 80%
Psycho–socio educational 47%
Family systems 18%
Multi–systemic 16%
Psycho–dynamic 13%

On this next slide, we’ve listed the most frequently–identified treatment approaches reported by survey respondents. Although categories are broad and not always clearly delineated, you can see that the cognitive–behavioral approach is the most frequently occurring method of treatment for adult males in the community. Other commonly–used approaches are indicated, including relapse prevention, psycho-socio educational, family systems, etc. The categories used in the survey do not directly correspond with the treatment areas discussed in the previous section of this training curriculum, so it isn’t possible to know, for example, how often a method such as covert sensitization is used. It is striking, however, that such methods as cognitive–behavioral and relapse prevention are so widely used. These are methods to which community supervision agencies can certainly provide support, encouraging a collaborative approach to sex offender management.

Adult Male Sex Offender Community and Residential Treatment

This next slide highlights the survey findings relating to community and residential-based sex offender treatment programs.

Use SlideUse Slide #8: Adult Male Sex Offender Community Treatment

Not surprisingly, the most frequently used intervention method in community–based sex offender treatment is cognitive–behavioral treatment. Treatment duration averages two to three years, with treatment sessions typically lasting just under an hour for individual treatment and 90 minutes for group treatment. The cost of treatment in 2002 was $45–$87 per hour for individual therapy and $23–$43 per hour for group therapy. Two–thirds of the treatment providers offered a sliding fee scale for those who could not afford full fees.

The following is information about treatment setting for adult males:

Community Programs Adult Male Programs (N=528)
Private practice 73%
Community mental health 19%
Other 13%


Residential Programs Adult Male Programs (N=92)
Prison 55%
Civil commitment center 15%
Residential treatment 13%

Number of Adult Community Treatment Programs for Males Compared to Programs for Females

This pie chart shows the relative proportion of community treatment programs for male sex offenders compared to those for females. The number of programs for female sex offenders may seem surprisingly large given the small proportion of female sex offenders relative to males. But note this is a chart of programs, not numbers of offenders being treated in programs. The programs that treat males almost always have many more sex offenders in treatment than do those who treat females. Shortly we’ll look at people, not programs, to see how many females are treated compared to the number of males. But first let’s look at the number of treatment programs for adults compared to those for adolescents and children.

Use SlideUse Slide #9: Number of Adult Community Treatment Programs for Males Compared to Programs for Females

Use SlideUse Slide #10: Number of Community and Residential Treatment Programs for Adults Compared to Programs for Adolescents and Children

Number of Community and Residential Treatment Programs for Adults Compared to Programs for Adolescents and Children

When looking at both community and residential treatment programs, there were 410 such programs for children with sexual behavior problems, 937 programs for adolescents who committed sexual assaults, and 951 programs for adult sex offenders.