Relapse prevention (RP) plays a major role in the vast number of treatment programs for sexual offenders. However, despite its widespread application, questions have been raised regarding the uncritical adoption of the approach (R. K. Hanson, 1996). More specifically, the way in which it is presented to sexual offenders has been criticized for being unhelpfully negative in focus (Mann, 2000) and it has been suggested that treatment should adopt a broader focus on improving quality of life (T. Ward and C. A. Stewart, 2003), with the expectation that recidivism would reduce as a side-effect. The current study evaluated two orientations to relapse prevention, comparing a deliberately positively-focused orientation, focusing on creating a “good life,” to the more traditional approach that focuses on avoiding and controlling risk factors. Twenty-four participants completed an approach-focused RP intervention and 23 completed an avoidance-focused RP intervention. Results indicated that participants who completed the approach-focused intervention had a greater engagement in treatment as measured by homework compliance and willingness to disclose lapses. Furthermore, participants within the approach-focused intervention were rated by therapist to be more genuinely motivated to live life without offending by the end of treatment. However, differences between the groups in terms of self-esteem change following treatment were not very marked. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for treatment delivery.
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 30, 2004
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