Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 17, No. 2, April 2005 (
Research on the Processes Involved
in Treating Sexual Offenders
This article summarizes preliminary ﬁndings from a series of pilot studies on
the processes involved in treating sexual offenders. Quantitative and qualitative
methods were used on samples of 15 to 24 child molesters undergoing a prison-
based cognitive-behavioral and relapse prevention treatment program. Results
are presented and discussed in the form of 5 questions: (1) Are therapists just
“technicians”? The offenders’ point of view (2) Does confronting the therapist
mean treatment resistance? (3) Are the therapists perceived as therapists, parents,
or a bit of both? (4) Is the structure of the program important? The offenders’
point of view and (5) Is a sense of mastery important in a prison setting? It is
suggested that researchers investigate the processes underlying the treatment of
offenders, especially the common factors which have been shown to have an effect
on therapeutic outcome.
KEY WORDS: therapeutic process research; sex offenders.
Over the last decades, treatment programs for sexual offenders have expanded
and now include quite complex and sophisticated protocols addressing a large vari-
ety of behaviors, difﬁculties, problems, and complaints. As indicated by Marshall
et al. (2003), early behavioral treatment programs were concerned to carefully
describe and demonstrate the efﬁcacy of speciﬁc procedures and techniques. This
was done in part to distinguish cognitive and behavioral therapies from early
dynamic therapies, but also because the early behavior therapists came from a
strongly empirical background. This approach involved considering therapeutic
techniques as the primary (if not the only) factor responsible for improvement in
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Counselling Psychology, McGill
University, 3700 McTavish, Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1Y2, Canada; e-mail: martin.drapeau@
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.