Pref ace It can be wise for a field to take stock from time to time. What do we, as a field, know? What do we not know? What are our challenges? What is controversial and what is not controversial in the field? To what extent are we meeting our stakeholders’ expectations (and indeed what exactly are these)? How effective are our treatments? How well do we understand the etiology of the problems we treat? How accurate are our clinical predictions? How valid are our assessment devices? Are our diagnostic criteria clear and accurate? Do we have the right balance between prevention, treatment, and a public health perspective? Are the laws and policies involved in our field reasonable or do these need improvement? These sorts of questions can guide critically important decisions regarding funding priorities, research priorities, the reactions of others to our field, as well as public policy. Of course any field has problems but a key issue are these problems clearly recognized and is progress being made on these? All these questions deserve honest, direct, and detailed responses. The field of the assessment and treatment of sexual offenders is certainly an important one. A number of diverse stakeholders are deeply concerned that this work is done well. Our failures can have devastating personal consequences. There can be a lot of emotions around these phenomena—one can see this around civil commitment, relapse rates in treatment, and even in the definition and diagnosis of a paraphilia. Practitioners and researchers work in a difficult context. There are a number of value issues that can generate considerable heat. And it is fair to say that what we want to accomplish, i.e., to prevent sexual offending, to measure a number of important dimensions regarding sexuality, to treat it with 100 % effectiveness, etc. has proven to be difficult tasks. Clearly the field has made progress. For example, Laws ( 2016 ) provided a brief description of current best practice interventions: While there are some minor variations in the specifics of treatment programs across the world, any credible program will typically have the following structure, orientation, and elements. Following a comprehensive assessment period where static and dynamic risk factors are assessed and overall level of risk determined, offenders are allocated into a treatment stream. The default ecological assumption appears to be that sexual offending is a v
vi Preface 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 Reference Laws, D. R. (2016). Social control of sex offenders: A cultural history . London: Palgrave Macmillan.