Psychotherapy Experiences of Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse.

Abstract

Cynicism about treatment of sex offenders pervades both professional and lay literature. A Cochrane review of randomized controlled trials concluded there is no evidence to support any psychological intervention for sex offenders, but RCT design has limitations for evaluating sex offender treatment. Rarely has a qualitative approach been used to explore perceptions of offenders themselves about their psychotherapy experiences. The purpose of this study was to discover the meaning of therapy experiences to 11 community-dwelling perpetrators of child sexual abuse. They had received therapy during incarceration or after release, or both. Secondary analysis was conducted of phenomenological interviews about participants' early life, during which they spontaneously revealed insights gleaned during therapy in adulthood. Rigor of the analysis was enhanced by reading transcripts aloud and thematizing them in an interdisciplinary interpretive group. Five interrelated themes constituted a gestalt comprising the essence of the therapy experience: "This treatment, it's just totally changed my whole world." Themes included: "It just stripped away all the pretense, all the lies, all the manipulation;" "I didn't understand myself; I found out all about myself through this;" "Nobody knew any of my secrets; that (therapy) was the first time that I got to tell my story;" "The group has become a family for me;" and "I'm very ashamed of what I've done; this treatment has really helped me, gave me a second chance." These findings stand in contrast to cynicism about sex offender therapy and lend support to the increased optimism expressed by several contemporary scholars.

DOI: 10.1016/j.apnu.2015.05.003

Cite this paper

@article{Thomas2015PsychotherapyEO, title={Psychotherapy Experiences of Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse.}, author={Sandra P. Thomas and Kenneth D. Phillips and Susan K Blaine}, journal={Archives of psychiatric nursing}, year={2015}, volume={29 5}, pages={309-15} }