Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp1003-sebu-474119 November 17, 2003 14:39 Style ﬁle version Nov 28th, 2002
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 16, No. 1, January 2004 (
Engagement, Denial, and Treatment Progress
Among Sex Offenders in Group Therapy
Jill S. Levenson
and Mark J. Macgowan
This study investigates the relationship between engagement,denial, and treatment
progress among a sample of 61 male sex offenders in outpatient group therapy.
Three hypotheses were posed: (1) that denial is inversely related to engagement
in group therapy; (2) that denial is inversely related to treatment progress, and
(3) that engagement is correlated with treatment progress. Results revealed a
strong correlation between engagement in group therapy, measured by the Group
Engagement Measure, and sex offender treatment progress, assessed by the Sex Of-
fender Treatment Rating Scale. Denial, measured by the Facets of Sexual Offender
Denial Scale, demonstrated a strong inverse relationship to treatment progress.
Engagement and denial were also strongly inversely related. Together, engagement
and denial explained a signiﬁcant amount of the variance in treatment progress.
The ﬁndings provide support for current standards of practice that maintain that
admitting to a sex crime is a necessary condition for progress and engagement
in treatment. Strategies for increasing engagement and treatment progress, and
reducing denial, are discussed.
KEY WORDS: engagement; denial; treatment progress; sex offender; group therapy.
Sex offender treatment outcome studies typically measure the effects of treat-
ment on recidivism. However, the measurement of in-treatment change is equally
important (Hanson, 2000). Measuring the skills, behaviors, and attitudes of clients
that can be altered by treatment and that are relevant to the prevention of future sex
crimes has been identiﬁed as an important research endeavor (Marques, Nelson,
West, & Day, 1994). The need for more clinical research measuring treatment
School of Social Work, Florida International University, Miami, Florida.
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2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation