Treatment of Sex Offenders





product of faulty social learning and individuals commit sexual offenses because they have

a number of skill deficits that make it difficult for them to seek reinforcement in socially

acceptable ways. Thus the primary mechanisms underpinning sexual offending are thought

to be social and psychological…. Furthermore, treatment is typically based around an analysis

of individuals’ offending patterns and takes a cognitive-behavioral/relapse prevention

perspective. The major goal is to teach sex offenders the skills to change the way they think,

feel, and act and to use this knowledge to avoid or escape from future high-risk situations.

There are usually discrete treatment modules devoted to the following problem areas: cognitive

distortions, deviant sexual interests, social skill deficits, impaired problem solving,

empathy deficits, intimacy deficits, emotional regulation difficulties, lifestyle imbalance,

and post-offense adjustment or relapse prevention…. (T)he length of treatment programs

vary but for a medium-risk or higher offender will likely be at least 9 months in duration

and frequently quite a bit longer. A treatment program that follows the model described is

likely to produce results with moderately motivated offenders who actively participate in

the program modules. Numerous meta-analyses attest to treatment success producing modest

rates of recidivism (cited in Laws, 2016, in press).

This edited book was designed to explicate and discuss the state of the field. It

will examine what we see as the key challenges. It is designed to have experts in

important specialties give honest evaluations of the strengths and challenges of key

dimensions of the field of sexual offending. In addition, these experts were encouraged

to give their recommendations for the agenda for the future including research

priorities, policy priorities, and funding priorities. It is relevant to understanding

current views on best practices and thus ought to be informative to the practitioner.

We can all agree that the field of sexual offending is both challenging and vitally

important to accomplish its tasks in the most effective way possible.

Victoria, BC, Canada

Reno, NV, USA

D. Richard Laws

William O’Donohue


Laws, D. R. (2016). Social control of sex offenders: A cultural history . London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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