Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp916-sebu-469139 July 15, 2003 15:5 Style ﬁle version Nov 28th, 2002
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 15, No. 4, October 2003 (
Principles and Techniques for Maximizing the
Effectiveness of Group Therapy With Sex Offenders
Jerry L. Jennings
and Steven Sawyer
Group-based interventions are widely used as the preferred method for the treat-
ment of sexual offenders. However, little attention has been given to the vital inter-
personal processes within groups, whichcontributeto their therapeutic effect. This
paper describes speciﬁc principles and techniques of group therapy that will help
sex offender treatment practitioners take full advantage of this unique modality
and thereby maximize the positive impact of treatment. In contrast to an individual-
focused style thatcharacterizes many sexoffendertreatmentgroups,group-focused
interventions involve all group members and use the social/relational energy that
is essential to the group modality.
KEY WORDS: group therapy; sex offenders; sex offender treatment; abusive men.
Cognitive–behavioral methods are now widely accepted as the most effective
treatment approach with sexual offenders (Marshall, 1996; Marshall & Barbaree,
1990).The Ethical Standards and Principlesfor the ManagementofSexualAbusers
(ATSA, 2001, p. 17), whichare based on the research and consensusopinion of pro-
fessionals specializing in sex offender treatment, states that “cognitive–behavioral
approaches appear to be the most effective method of treatment intervention.” At
the same time, group therapy is almost universally recognized as the treatment
modality of choice with sexual offenders. According to a survey by the Safer
Society (2000), the majority of treatment being used with sex offenders today is
cognitive–behavioral treatment delivered in a group format.
Liberty Behavioral Health Corporation, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Project Pathﬁnder, St. Paul, Minnesota.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Liberty Behavioral Health Corporation, 401 E. City
Avenue, Suite 820, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, 19004; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2003 Plenum Publishing Corporation