Academic journal article Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling

Motivational Counseling: Implications for Counseling Male Juvenile Sex Offenders

Academic journal article Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling

Motivational Counseling: Implications for Counseling Male Juvenile Sex Offenders

Article excerpt

Juvenile sex offenders (JSOs) often appear unmotivated to change, which thus necessitates a therapeutic approach that matches "resistant" client characteristics. In this article, the authors review common traits of JSOs, introduce motivational counseling as an effective treatment modality, and offer a case illustration.


Recently, increased attention has focused on crimes involving sexual offenses and on the treatment of perpetrators (Duller, 2006). Whereas the research on treatment modalities for sex offenders has focused primarily on adult offenders (Miner, 2002), 50% of adult offenders indicate that their paraphilias and sex crimes began when they were adolescents (Andrade, Vincent, & Saleh, 2006). Additionally, Miner noted that adolescents perpetrate at least 15% of all reported sexual offenses in the United States. Given these statistics, it is surprising to learn that many of the current treatment modalities used with this client population fail to acknowledge the interaction between adolescent developmental patterns and sexual offending behaviors (Calley, 2007). Clearly, an approach that recognizes this relationship is warranted. Following a brief review of the literature that provides a framework for the proposed treatment approach (motivational counseling), we explore this theory and present a detailed case example that demonstrates the successful implementation of this approach.

For the purpose of this article, the term sex offender is defined as one who committed any sexual act with a person of any age without that individual's consent (Gerardin & Thibaut, 2004), and the term juvenile is used to define an individual who is under 18 years of age. Therefore, a JSO is defined as a person who committed a sexual offense and who by law is considered to be old enough to be held criminally responsible for his or her actions but not old enough to be subjected to the fullest extent of adult law (Barbaree & Marshall, 2006). Additionally, because the majority of sex offenders are male (Rich, 2003), this article focuses exclusively on male offenders.

According to Lemmond and Verhaagen (2002), therapeutic counseling approaches with JSOs have varied throughout the years. Regardless of the approach, the prevention of recidivism is the overall goal (Gerardin & Thibaut, 2004). Three approaches are identified as the most frequently used models for treating JSOs: (a) psychosocial (Bourke & Donohue, 1996; Fanniff & Becker, 2006), (b) cognitive-behavioral (Calley, 2007; Rich, 2003; Serran, Fernandez, Marshall, & Mann, 2003), and (c) multisystemic (Fanniff & Becker, 2006; Saleh & Vincent, 2004). Each warrants a brief mention to help frame the model proposed in this article.

The psychosocial model is a common approach that aims to promote sex education. Within this model, the counselor attempts to identify and treat maladaptive sexuality by teaching "normal" sexual development, or, in other words, sex education (Bourke & Donohue, 1996). Although this may prove useful for the purposes of teaching normative behaviors, Fanniff and Becker (2006) concluded that data identifying a connection between the psychosocial model and decreased recidivism were insufficient.

The cognitive--behavioral (CB) model is primarily used to clarify thinking errors that a JSO might possess regarding his offense (Calley, 2007). Furthermore, the CB model allows counselors to help their clients identify the relationship between their thoughts, behaviors, and arousal patterns (Fanniff & Becker, 2006). Because of the emphasis placed on the implementation of specific therapeutic interventions within the CB model, Serran et al. (2003) noted that the role of the counselor--client relationship is minimized. Given the therapeutic efficacy of this relationship, the CB model may limit the overall successful resolution of sexually offending behaviors.

The multisystemic treatment approach assumes that problematic behaviors are multidimensional and require interventions that alter the JSO's systemic context (Bourke & Donohue, 1996). …

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