Personal Construct Perspectives on Forensic Psychology

By James Horley | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

Treating offenders in the community: Assessment and treatment issues and the special challenges of sexual offenders

Anthony Eccles and William Walker


Introduction

This chapter will address the treatment of offenders in the community with a special emphasis illustrating the problems and processes of treatment using the example of sexual offenders. The perspective we will describe is a cognitive-behavioural one, the most effective (Gendreau, Goggin, Cullen & Andrews, 2001) and increasingly common approach to offender treatment in North America. We have worked with offenders in both the prison setting and in the community. While we have been involved with both sexual and non-sexual offenders, the bulk of our involvement concerns the former.

The development of improved risk assessment methodologies in the last ten years has resulted in an increasing focus on the development of programmes to deal with identifiably dangerous offenders (Serin & Preston, 2001). There has also been an increasing awareness of the need to develop programmes that are properly geared to specific treatment needs and criminogenic risk factors (Andrews & Bonta, 1999). Thus, targeting and improving an offender's social skills in an observable way may not have an impact on recidivism if such deficits are not criminogenic for this offender or his offender group. Along with the increasing demands to provide treatment to more clearly defined groups of offenders with programmes efficiently tailored to their offence-related needs, it appears to us that we are witnessing more demand for the development of community-based and other progressive treatment options such as the establishment of more therapeutic communities (e.g., Cullen, Newell & Woodward, 1997). This is in marked contrast to what we observed during most of the 1980s and 1990s when there was a trend toward what Gendreau et al. (2001) refer to

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