Chapter 37Good Lives and the Rehabilitation of Sex Offenders


The treatment of sex offenders in the past two decades has focused on reducing the psychological and social deficits associated with offending. The predominant rehabilitation model is the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) approach, which is concerned with decreasing the likelihood that offenders will engage in harmful behavior (Andrews & Bonta, 2010; Ward & Stewart, 2003a). The expectation is that by identifying and managing dynamic risk factors (e.g., antisocial attitudes and deviant sexual arousal), offending rates will be reduced. The primary goal of treatment is the reduction and management of risk rather than the enhancement of offenders' lives (Ward, 2002).

In recent years a number of clinicians and researchers (e.g., Pithers, 1990) have argued that understanding the process of relapse is central to the treatment of sexual offenders. Clear behavioral patterns translate into distinct clusters of cognitive, affective, and behavioral offense variables among sexual offenders (Ward, Louden, Hudson, & Marshall, 1995). Models of the relapse process provide a rich description of the cognitive, behavioral, motivational, and contextual risk factors associated with a sexual offense (Ward & Hudson, 2000). Theoretical approaches typically include an explicit temporal factor and focus on proximal causes or the “how” of sexual offending. The aim in treatment is therefore to ensure individuals ...

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