Predicting Psychological Distress in Sex Offender Therapists

Predicting Psychological Distress in Sex Offender Therapists The provision of psychological services to sexual offenders presents therapists with many challenges, including exposure to vivid descriptions of sexual violence and trauma. Although there is an increasingly robust body of literature investigating the effects of such traumatic exposure on therapists who work with the victims of sexual abuse, there have been few studies of its impact on those who treat the perpetrators. This study provides an exploratory investigation of the experience of psychological distress among therapists who work with sex offenders, as well as the social support mechanisms that may serve to mitigate therapist risk. Fifty-nine sex offender therapists completed a self-report measure of posttraumatic stress symptomatology, and rated their perceptions of family and peer support. Therapists also reported the number of hours that they devote to sex offender treatment and the amount of clinical supervision they participate in on a weekly basis. As a group, participants reported experiencing low levels of general and trauma-related distress. Although statistical analyses failed to indicate the existence of a significant positive correlation between number of hours devoted to sex offender treatment and the experience of therapist distress, greater perceptions of peer support were significantly predictive of lower levels of psychological distress and PTSD symptoms. These results are discussed relative to their implications for sex offender therapist self-care and future research. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment Springer Journals

Predicting Psychological Distress in Sex Offender Therapists

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 by Plenum Publishing Corporation
Subject
Psychology; Sexual Behavior; Psychiatry; Clinical Psychology; Criminology and Criminal Justice, general
ISSN
1079-0632
eISSN
1573-286X
D.O.I.
10.1023/A:1022346100224
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The provision of psychological services to sexual offenders presents therapists with many challenges, including exposure to vivid descriptions of sexual violence and trauma. Although there is an increasingly robust body of literature investigating the effects of such traumatic exposure on therapists who work with the victims of sexual abuse, there have been few studies of its impact on those who treat the perpetrators. This study provides an exploratory investigation of the experience of psychological distress among therapists who work with sex offenders, as well as the social support mechanisms that may serve to mitigate therapist risk. Fifty-nine sex offender therapists completed a self-report measure of posttraumatic stress symptomatology, and rated their perceptions of family and peer support. Therapists also reported the number of hours that they devote to sex offender treatment and the amount of clinical supervision they participate in on a weekly basis. As a group, participants reported experiencing low levels of general and trauma-related distress. Although statistical analyses failed to indicate the existence of a significant positive correlation between number of hours devoted to sex offender treatment and the experience of therapist distress, greater perceptions of peer support were significantly predictive of lower levels of psychological distress and PTSD symptoms. These results are discussed relative to their implications for sex offender therapist self-care and future research.

Journal

Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and TreatmentSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 22, 2004

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