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Working with Juvenile Sexual Offenders

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Working with Juvenile Sexual Offenders

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  1. Working with Juvenile Sexual Offenders Differences from Adults and Special Considerations Donya L. Adkerson, MA, LCPCAlternatives Counseling, Inc.2005

  2. Not Just Younger Adults Things to keep in mind: • Much less is known from research on JSOs than with ASOs • What we know for sure about ASOs does not necessarily apply to JSOs • Adolescence as a developmental stage goes into the early 20s • Research does suggest that intervention is MORE EFFECTIVE with JSOs than adults

  3. Practical Differences with JSOs • There will be a legal guardian involved who can help or may hurt the intervention process • JSOs may not be in control of simple things, like getting to therapy on time, or at all • JSOs more likely to have continued contact with their victims that is out of their control (e.g., in home or at same school)

  4. Practical Differences with JSOs • School and family systems often provide complications not faced with adults • JSOs may view adults as an alien species • Impulsivity, questionable judgement, and testing rules and limits are all normal and expected annoyances to some degree • Wide variation among youth requires flexibility for maximum effectiveness

  5. Group Issues with JSOs Caution is needed • Peers can have greater power over youth than the adults in group • Antisocial youth may be powerful role models • Drive for acceptance by peers may be greater than desire to please group leader • Too much difference in age/development can pose risk for exploitation of more vulnerable youth • Outpatient JSOs more likely to see group members in other settings than with adults

  6. Additional differences in working with JSOs • Things change RAPIDLY B risk other assessments are very time-limited in their useful validity • Sexual arousal patterns less fixed • Level of sexual focus may be high due to hormones rather than compulsion • Factual knowledge of human sexuality may be poor, misinformation is common

  7. Additional differences in working with JSOs PThere may be pressure from family to deny even normal sexual interest or behavior, not just the offending PThe younger the JSO the more likely a victimization history is plying a role in the offending PCurrent hidden victimization is a risk

  8. Finding a Balance Safety Planning vs. Normal development • JSOs need normal developmental experiences to develop a healthy lifestyle and the social skills and confidence they will need to help them avoid offending in the future. • Normal developmental experiences may bring risks or opportunities to offend. • Balancing these potential conflicts must be a case-by-case decision.

  9. JSOs & the School Case by case decisions PNot all JSOs pose a risk at school PSchools may overreact PSchools MUST be involved when there is any identified potential for offending at school <Peers <On-campus daycare or younger grades <Field trips <Bus

  10. JSOs and work Common issues • NO BABYSITTING! • The JSO should never be in a position of authority over younger children. • Fast food job precautions • Not handling children=s parties • Restrooms • Playground areas

  11. Other environments to consider Case by case PAfter school programs PSports & recreational activities <Beware swimming pools PChurch PHomes of friends and relatives POnline/internet PTransportation

  12. Treatment Tasks With JSOs PRemediate skill deficits that interfere with successful functioning, such as <Identification and expression of feelings <Realistic levels of trust <Assertiveness training <Anger & stress management; emotional regulation <Communication & relationship skills <Sex-role stereotyping <Values clarification

  13. Treatment Tasks With JSOs • Develop positive and prosocial sexuality • Learn about of human sexuality • Sexual health-Birth control, STDs, safe sexual practices • Gender roles • Responsibility sexuality • Healthy relationship and sexual skills

  14. Treatment Tasks With JSOs PIdentify family issues or dysfunction that trigger, support, or fail to inhibit the offending behaviors PWork with youth and family system for successful reintegration, when clinically appropriate

  15. Family Reintegration Work should include PSuccessful progress of the offender in his/her treatment PTherapy including the offender an family PTherapy for the victim (individual and family) PSupervised visits transitioning to successful unsupervised visits PProgression from apology to reconciliation to reunification

  16. Treatment Tasks With JSOs PPrepare the youth for successful reintegration into the community <Activities in the community <Attending public or community schools <Employment opportunity <Family visits P

  17. Treatment Tasks With JSOs PInvolve the youth in Arestorative justice@ activities to make amends, such as <Public service <Community projects <Financial restitution

  18. Treatment Tasks With JSOs PAddress other clinical needs <Substance abuse <Mental health issues <Medical needs <Educational needs

  19. Treatment modalities that may be used for intervention with JSOs Include PIndividual PGroup PFamily PMilieu (for residential settings) PMulti-systemic

  20. Individual Therapy • Benefits • Allows the most individualized focus; good for unusual needs that may not fit a broader group of clients • Pacing can be as slow as needed for lower functioning clients; and as repetitive as necessary • Adaptable for shorter attention spans • Some techniques (e.g., EMDR) only usable in individual work

  21. Individual Therapy • Limitations • Easier to con an individual therapist • Intense focus may increase resistance of some clients • No opportunity to learn from peers or practice peer interaction; lack observation of peer interaction • May reinforce belief that the client is Asick@ and isolated with his problem • Costly

  22. Choose Individual Therapy When PClient cannot follow group process (due to age, severe developmental delay, active psychosis) PIntensive trauma recovery work PUnique clinical need is not shared by other group members PTo address severe anxiety or depression PNo group is available

  23. Individual may be used very effectively as an adjunct to group Some uses for adjunctive Individual therapy include • Teaching specific tasks (i.e., ammonia aversion) • Handling reactive depressions • Reinforcing & clarifying concepts for cognitively slower youth • Treating PTSD symptoms

  24. AFamily@ can cover a wide range of people <Bio, Step or Adoptive Parents <Current, past or future foster parents <Extended family <Caseworkers and Mentors <Other caregivers

  25. Roadblocks presented by Caretakers Can impede the progress of the JSO PDenial & Minimization <Acknowledging the offense =self failing as parent <Fears their anger at child if accept the offense happens <Fears choosing between children <Own victimization history triggered; dissociative coping PEnabling <Has own deviancy issues <Incestuous family culture

  26. Roadblocks presented by Caretakers PUnhealthy AProtecting@ <Sees role as protecting child from consequences PParental Dysfunction <Alcohol & drug abuse <Mental illness <Criminal involvement <Serious domestic violence PUninformed <Lacks knowledge, either about offending overall or about their own child=s problems/patterns

  27. Family Involvement may be critical Possible ways include PFamily education PFamily therapy PEducational groups PSupervised visitation POther means of involvement

  28. Family Therapy • Benefits • Allows education of the support system • Addressing dysfunction within the family that may support the offending • Allows for improvement of skills in general parenting and supervision of child with the sexual behavior problem • Can improve likelihood of child remaining in or returning to the family system

  29. Family Therapy • Limitations • Family secrets (e.g., undisclosed parental offending or parental trauma history)) can undermine the therapy and increase stress on client and sibs • It can be damaging to victim if family therapy undertaking without victim treatment, appropriate work for parent=s support of victim, or if sibs are blaming victim • Families who do not want the offender in home may sabotage treatment, increasing harm to client • Often difficult to get/keep family participation

  30. Choose family therapy when • Parents need better understanding or skills relating the abuse problem • Family Reintegration is a goal • Other family dysfunction is impacting the client • Communication skills or family relationships need strengthening

  31. Family Therapy is Contraindicated When • A parent is an untreated offender • The victim is in the family and has not had victim treatment OR the abuser is not yet fully honest/accountable about the offending • Parent-child dyad may be utilized to begin work until victim & offender are both ready for family work • The family=s current level of hostility, anger, or punitive behavior makes therapy too emotionally risky for the client

  32. Group Therapy PBenefits <Decreases ability to Aget over@ on the therapist <Increases hope of positive change <Decreases sense of isolation, stigma, and uniqueness <Social skills practice <Very effective for the problem area <Cost-effective

  33. Group Therapy PLimitations PNot all clients capable of following group process <Requires effort from therapist to develop and maintain a positive group culture <A single disruptive member may take valuable time from others <Higher initial level of nervousness from clients <Risk breach of confidentiality by group members

  34. Typical goals of Group JSO therapy include PSocial skills PCycle work PChanging cognitions PLearning practical skills & strategies PDevelop motivation POn-going assessment of client

  35. Choose Group Therapy Whenever PClient has capacity to interact, follow a group process PTreatment needs are within norms for the population

  36. Types of Interventions that Utilized in Group include PEducation PCorrection PModeling PReinforcing PConsequences PFacilitating peer Intervention

  37. External Controls Are a form of therapeutic intervention • Supervision • Visual monitoring • Alarms • Locked facility • Restrictions on activities, places, people • Legal sanctions • Physiological monitoring • Polygraph monitoring • Drug testing

  38. Multi-systemic Therapy Research-proven value with criminal youth • A combination of interventions, including therapy, family intervention, and community interventions • Educational • Occupational • Recreational • Proven effectiveness for reduction of delinquent behaviors including sexual offending • Research established cost-effectiveness • Likely best approach for antisocial/conduct disordered youth

  39. Helpful Skills for JSO therapy Group or individual PListen carefully and hear what is behind the words PRead body language PCommunicate <Knowledge <Attitudes

  40. Helpful Skills for JSO therapy Group or individual PKnow your subject <JSO issues & goals <The client=s history PHumor PCaring <About protecting victims <About the client

  41. Treatment traps In JSO work In any modality PPower struggles PWasting time PToo much personal disclosure PPersonalizing

  42. Treatment traps In JSO work In any modality PSide-stepping sex PEroticizing material PReacting to the offense (rather than to victim harm) PFailing to connect back to offending

  43. Treatment traps In JSO work In any modality PToo much belief or trust of self-report <This gets worse the longer a therapist works with a client!

  44. Treatment traps In JSO work In group therapy PIgnoring the silent PABeating a dead horse@ PInappropriate modeling <Social skills <Abusive confrontation <Facilitator thinking errors

  45. Treatment traps In JSO work In group therapy PMonopolizing the group PGiving up control of the group