Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] pp1216-sebu-487649 May 12, 2004 2:56 Style ﬁle version Nov 28th, 2002
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 16, No. 3, July 2004 (
Therapeutic Engagement Styles of Child Sexual
Offenders in a Group Treatment Program:
A Grounded Theory Study
It is widely observed that child sexual offenders typically exhibit considerable
reluctance to self-disclose at a level that reﬂects the full reality of their offending.
Their successful engagement in relapse prevention-based programs is therefore
problematic. Thispaperdescribes astudyinvolving men undertakinga prototypical
group treatment program, facing the challenge of revealing to others the details of
their offense process. A procedure was developed to access their covert responses
at the time of this encounter. From a grounded theory analysis, participants were
found to employ various strategies to manage situations where self-disclosure
was required. Four distinct disclosure management styles emerged: exploratory,
oppositional, evasive, and placatory; the latter three of which appear unfavorable
to effective engagement in treatment. As well as suggesting ways of inﬂuencing
disclosure management style, analysis indicated that it might be possible to predict
these different orientations during routine assessment.
KEY WORDS: therapeutic engagement; self-disclosure; child sexual offenders; disclosure
Relapse prevention-based treatment has, over the last two decades, become
the preferred approach to working with sexual offenders (Laws, 1998; Marshall,
Fernandez, Hudson, & Ward, 1998). This is especially so in the treatment of
those whose victims are children (Marshall & Anderson, 2000). The relapse pre-
vention model as applied to sexual offending was originally adapted from the
addictions ﬁeld as a treatment maintenance strategy (Pithers, Marques, Gibat, &
Marlatt, 1983). It has since been developed as a more ﬂexible and durable treatment
Kia Marama Special Treatment Unit, Corrections Psychological Service, Rolleston, New Zealand.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Kia Marama Special Treatment Unit, PO Box 45,
Rolleston, Canterbury, New Zealand; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2004 Plenum Publishing Corporation