Although literature surrounding sexual criminality is growing; with recent research, this paper aims to focus more upon burnout and emotional impact in therapists who study with sex offenders, little is known about possible gender differences in their experiences.Design/methodology/approachThe study presents a systematic review that aims to provide an impartial critical examination of relevant existing literature, with the main aim of exploring the role of gender (both the staff members and the clients) in staffs’ experience of working with sexual offenders.FindingsFindings retrieved 10 eligible studies indicating evidence of the influential role in which gender plays in the experienced staff may have when working with sexual offenders. Studies within the review demonstrated variability in views towards sexual offenders across genders; with studies finding female staff to hold more positive perceptions of sexual offenders. Further evidence suggested a global impact of working with the client group; with professionals holding differential and largely more positive views of sexual offenders than the general public. However, an adverse impact of working with sexual offenders was highlighted, particularly for staff who have worked longest within their role or have increased frequency of contact.Research limitations/implicationsLimitations were highlighted in relation to the reviews ability to truly explore gender; given there are no current studies within this research area defining gender beyond male and female, losing the voices of those non-binary and transgendered individuals.Practical implicationsThe paper includes implications for staff working with sexual offenders; including adverse affects of the clinical contact and the impact of working with same/opposing gendered clients. Research also takes a gender informed stance in exploring how staff gender impacts the relationships with sexual offenders, and the effect this may have on client outcomes.Originality/valueResearch is the first of its kind in taking a systematic approach to exploring the current literature surrounding staffs experiences of working with sexual offenders, through a gender informed lens.
Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 17, 2021
Keywords: Gender; Abuse; Systematic review; Experience; Female; Sexual offender; Staff; Male