Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 16, No. 4, October 2004 (
Reﬂexivity, Reﬂection, and the Change Process
in Offender Work
and Marie Connolly
This study explores the therapeutic engagement experiences of men who have
sexually offended against children and who are involved in a prototypical prison-
based group treatment programme. The study examined factors relating to the
therapeutic engagement of the offender in treatment, and in particular, the impact
of the “out-of-group” time between sessions. The ﬁndings, although tentative,
suggest that between formal therapy sessions, clients of the programme make
signiﬁcant movement either toward or away from engagement in the therapy.
The implications of these processes with respect to clinical practice and the
development of offender services are discussed.
KEY WORDS: sex offending; therapeutic change; comprehensive process analysis.
Understanding how therapeutic change occurs is essential to the develop-
ment of treatment services for men who have sexually offended against children.
Attempts have been made to develop a general theory of change (Henry, 1999),
and some 450 schools of psychotherapy have been identiﬁed (Kanfer & Schefft,
1988). Clearly there exists a considerable variety of models and applications of
assisted planned personal change. Nevertheless, we might conclude from a trans-
theoretical view of the literature that an ideal context for deliberate change—that
most likely to maximize opportunities for change to occur—will provide a num-
ber of facilitating features: an adequate “workspace” (Hubble, Duncan, & Miller,
Kia Marama Special Treatment Unit, Psychological Services, Department of Corrections, Rolleston,
Department of Social Work, University of Canterbury, P.O. Box 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Kia Marama Special Treatment Unit, Psy-
chological Services, Department of Corrections, P.O. Box 45, Rolleston, New Zealand; e-mail:
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation