What Therapies Actually Work to Help Sex Offenders Reform?
If you’re convicted of a sex crime in Georgia, there’s no doubt your life can get quite complicated for awhile. You’ll appear on the sex offender registry, you may not be permitted to live within a certain distance from schools, parks, and so on. However, in putting your life back together, the larger question is how not to reoffend. Are there certain therapies that are more effective than others at helping sex offenders reform?
Here’s the good news: If you’ve committed one sexual offense, you’re by no means doomed to commit another. In fact, the probabilities of recovery are higher for sexual offenders than for many other forms of addiction or compulsion. One study cited by the American Psychological Association showed that recidivism rates among sex offenders was only about 17.3 percent, and with treatment that rate dropped to 9.9 percent. With the right therapy, change is not only possible—it’s probable. That said, some therapies are definitely more effective than others in encouraging reform.
What Works, and What Doesn’t
Psych Central has published a helpful article listing effective forms of treatment for sex offenders, along with a few that don’t work. The article specifically denounces previously popular treatments like chemotherapy (injecting hormones that prohibit arousal) and behavior modification (using catalysts like shock therapy to try and change the brain’s reward-system programming). However, it also says traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy (finding a “root cause” of the behavior from childhood) is actually one of the least effective therapies for sex addicts because it indirectly provides a way to “shift blame” for one’s own actions instead of taking responsibility for them.
What therapies do seem to work? The following approaches have shown to be far more effective in helping sex offenders reform, especially when used in combination with each other:
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)—effectively identifying one’s “triggers” for bad behavior and finding new pathways to short-circuit those triggers
- Group Therapy—attending a support group in the tradition of the 12-step program (e.g., Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous)
- Accountability Systems. One program that has shown great promise for sex offenders is Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), which has been utilized extensively in Canada and Europe and is now making headway in the U.S. (Read the recent study conducted on CoSA by the American Enterprise Institute.)
We all must take responsibility for our own actions, including the responsibility not to repeat bad behavior. However, if you struggle with sexual compulsions that have led to a sex offense, the programs listed above can offer much needed support and assistance on the road to recovery.
If you’ve been charged with a sex crime and need legal representation, call Chehimi Law today at 678-459-5659. We’re here to help.