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

Curriculum Overview

This curriculum on sex offender treatment contains the following components for trainers who wish to plan and conduct live events on this topic.

Overview Materials

The overview materials include a section called Issues and Cautions for Users and a User’s Guide. The Issues and Cautions section provides information about adapting the curriculum to meet the specific needs of the audiences with which it is used, suggestions about the qualifications of trainers, and guidance about providing the substantive material contained in the curriculum with multi–disciplinary faculty teams. The User’s Guide explains the curriculum’s icons and notations, and reviews the information that is provided in the curriculum about how much time trainers should spend on specific topics and activities. It also includes tips on facilitating exercises and small group work and a brief overview of important training terms.

Long and Short Versions of the Curriculum

This curriculum includes a long and a short version. Within them, users will find:

  • Outlines that provide the major topics covered and the time allocated to each;
  • Lecture content and teaching notes with suggestions for using the curriculum’s slides, learning activities, and discussion questions;
  • Presentation slides that highlight the main points made during the lecture and that can be printed and distributed as participant materials; and
  • Participant materials intended to be copied and distributed to participants for use during and after the training. There are several types of these materials:
    • Learning Activities—The long version includes multiple learning activities. The teaching notes reiterate the goals of these activities and provide specific suggestions for their use. These activities serve several purposes: first, they reinforce the information that is presented during the training; second, they allow participants to share their experiences and perspectives, and—thereby—to learn from one another; and finally, they create variety in the training experience, which can keep audience members interested and engaged.
    • Reference Materials and Other Handouts—These documents are intended to serve as illustrations and examples of the topics and issues covered during the training, and as sources of additional information for individuals who are interested in learning more about a particular topic or issue. One example of the materials provided is a glossary of terms and concepts that are related to sex offender–specific treatment.

Evaluation Forms

Also included in this curriculum are evaluation forms that users may find helpful in assessing participants’ reactions to their training experiences. The forms can be duplicated and distributed to training participants for completion at the end of trainings. Users are encouraged to share the results of the training evaluations with CSOM. This will assist the project in refining and improving future editions of this and other training curricula.

Two Versions of the Curriculum

This curriculum is presented in two versions:

  • The long version (8 hours) is designed for line staff and their supervisors who have significant direct responsibility for the community supervision of sex offenders, and for other members of supervision teams (victim advocates, polygraph examiners, law enforcement officers, and others) who would benefit from a more comprehensive understanding of specialized treatment interventions. This version includes significantly more detail than does the short version on the specifics of and rationale for sex offender treatment, and how treatment providers and probation/parole officers work together. It also includes a number of learning activities that promote audience participation and interaction.
  • The short version (1½ hours) has been designed for probation and parole agency policymakers, supervisors, and line staff, judges, prosecutors, victim advocates, and others who are not directly involved in sex offender management. It might also be used as the framework for a presentation at a conference with a diverse audience that has an interest in issues related to sex offender management and treatment. The purpose of this version is to provide a brief introduction to what constitutes sex offender treatment, an overview of how it differs from traditional mental health treatment, and a summary of what is known about its effectiveness.

The following table highlights the differences in length of the curriculum’s two versions.

Curriculum Version Short 1 ½ hours Long 8 hours
Section 1: The Basics of Sex Offender–Specific Treatment 30 minutes 2 hours
Section 2: Sex Offender–Specific Treatment Outcome Research 15 minutes 30 minutes
Section 3: Elements of Sex Offender–Specific Treatment 25 minutes 4½ hours
Section 4: A National Perspective on the Current State of Practice 10 minutes 30 minutes
Section 5: What to Look for in a Treatment Provider 10 minutes 30 minutes

Curriculum Content

The following is a preview of the content in the curriculum’s five sections:

Section 1—The Basics of Sex Offender–Specific Treatment
This section articulates the goals and learning objectives of the training curriculum as a whole, outlines the content of the curriculum, identifies the core elements of sex offender–specific treatment, highlights the ways in which it differs from traditional mental health treatment, and provides a rationale for a specialized approach to the treatment of sex offenders in the community.

Section 2—Sex Offender–Specific Treatment Outcome Research
This section summarizes the evidence emerging from empirical research on sex offender treatment, outlining what is known about its effectiveness, what works for different types of sex offenders, and the implications of this research for treatment providers and others who share responsibility for sex offender management.

Section 3—Elements of Sex Offender–Specific Treatment
This section details the elements of sex offender treatment, including responding to denial, addressing cognitive distortions, and increasing victimization awareness. This section also introduces the major domains of treatment, addresses the use of medication, and outlines ethical standards of practice.

Section 4—A National Perspective on the Current State of Practice
This section summarizes the results of a national survey on sex offense–specific treatment practices that was conducted with the support of the Safer Society Foundation.

Section 5—What to Look for in a Treatment Provider
One of the most challenging issues facing the criminal justice system—the courts, probation and parole agencies, prosecutors, etc.—is how to know which treatment providers will make effective partners in the management of sex offenders in the community. This brief section outlines the factors that should be considered in selecting sex offender–specific treatment providers to work with criminal justice system actors in the management of this population.