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

Short Version
The Basics of Sex Offender–Specific Treatment

Subject Matter: This section of the curriculum provides an introduction to adult male sex offender–specific treatment by presenting its goals, its differences from other forms of mental health treatment, and brief descriptions of common characteristics of sex offender treatment. The section also includes a short description of how ongoing sex offender assessment can inform the treatment process and an overview of several assessment tools that are not widely used in other kinds of mental health treatments. These tools include the polygraph, the penile plethysmograph, and the Abel Assessment of Sexual Interest.

Sex Offender–Specific Treatment Outcome Research

Subject Matter: This section provides information about research findings pertaining to the effectiveness of sex offender–specific treatment. The fundamental question “Does sex offender treatment work?” is addressed by reviewing several studies of recidivism rates of groups of sex offenders who obtained treatment compared to groups that were untreated. Together, they provide a compelling argument for sex offender–specific treatment for most types of sex offender populations.

Elements of Sex Offender–Specific Treatment

Subject Matter: This section provides a framework for thinking about sex offender–specific treatment. It deals directly with a topic of great interest to those involved in community supervision—addressing offender denial. Additionally, in this section, participants are introduced to the four domains of treatment: sexual interests, distorted attitudes, interpersonal functioning, and behavior management. Ethical standards of practice are also discussed.

A National Perspective on the Current State of Practice

Subject Matter: The material in this section is based on a survey conducted by the Safer Society Foundation, Inc., entitled: Sex Offender Treatment Practice Patterns in the U.S. and Canada, North American Survey of Sexual Abuser Treatment and Models Summary Data, 2000 (published in 2001). It provides an overview of the scope of community and institutional treatment programs for adults, adolescents and children—by gender. It also describes some trends in methods of treatment and treatment tools.

What to Look for in a Treatment Provider

Subject Matter: This section addresses desirable qualifications and traits of sex offender–specific treatment providers. Additionally, suggestions are made for supervision officers to assist them in locating appropriate mental health professionals who are qualified to treat sex offenders.