Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 17, No. 2, April 2005 (
Relationship Between Therapeutic Climate
and Treatment Outcome in Group-Based Sexual
Offender Treatment Programs
Anthony R. Beech
and Catherine E. Hamilton-Giachritsis
The aim of the study was to examine the relationship between therapeutic climate
and the effectiveness of CBT treatment for sexual offenders in U.K. prisons. To
this end a measure of group atmosphere was administered to members and leaders
of 12 treatment groups running the same prison-based sexual offender treatment
program. Treatment outcome was measured using a case-by-case methodology
clinically signiﬁcant change analysis—to identify the percentage of individuals
within each group who had signiﬁcantly changed on measures of pro-offending
attitudes targeted in treatment. The results of the group process measure indicated
leaders generally viewed groups more positively than members. Clear differences
were also found between groups (ostensibly running the same treatment program)
in terms of group climate. Analysis of members’ process data indicated that there
was a clear relationship between how cohesive the members reported the group
to be and the extent to which freedom of action and expressions of feelings were
encouraged in groups, as well as treatment outcome as measured by signiﬁcant
reductions in pro-offending attitudes. These results are discussed in terms of what
they say about attitudes and goals of those involved in running treatment and how
the effectiveness of treatment programs can be maximized.
KEY WORDS: group process; group climate; sexual offenders; treatment outcome; clinically
There have been a number of recently reported studies that have demonstrated
effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral group-based treatment for sexual offenders
(Friendship, Mann, & Beech, 2003; Hanson et al., 2002). However, despite the
positive results of group-based CBT, Marshall et al. (2003) note that there is
Centre for Forensic and Family Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK.
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2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.