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I chose to observe a sex offenders group at office of an association of licensed professional counselors in Hinesville, Georgia. The group consisted of 9 sex offenders and the counselor, who was a woman, and myself. The group meet in the evening and everyone was present and on time. We sat in a circle, and I was introduced. I had to sign a confidentiality agreement, and the guys signed something stating they didn’t mind my being there. There were no introductions, as everyone knew each other.
Group therapy is seen as the most appropriate form of treatment in the United States. The rationale for this is the argument that sex offenders require group therapy because effective confrontation of manipulative behavior can only be done by other individuals who have been through the same dynamic. Groups are seen as necessary and appropriate for all sexual offenders, regardless of their individual personalities and the factors underlying their abusive behavior (Grossman, Martis, & Fichter, 1999).
Psychological treatment of sex offenders showed little success until the advent of cognitive-behavioral techniques which have undergone rapid development over the past two decades. CBT was primarily developed through a merging of behavior therapy with cognitive therapy. While rooted in rather different theories, these two traditions found common ground in focusing on the “here and now”, and on alleviating symptoms.
The goal of these treatments is to change sex offenders’ belief systems, eliminate inappropriate behavior, and increase appropriate behavior by modifying reinforcement contingencies so that offensive behavior is no longer reinforced (What is CBT, 2007).
CT intervention methods include helping clients learns to identify the negative, automatic thoughts that occur in upsetting situations, to examine their validity, and to replace them with more useful, reality based thinking.
The clients are helped to identify and change the elements of their belief system (world view, self-concept) and the cognitive distortions (errors in reasoning like catastrophic thinking) that lead to negative automatic thoughts. This empowers clients by teaching them to consider a variety of alternative explanations for the cause of an event, by helping them restate problems in behavioral terms that give a client some control over it and to create strategies for dealing with fearful possibilities.
BT intervention methods include diversion techniques to diminish negative thinking and emotionality, activity scheduling to increase positive emotion and mastery, homework and graded task assignments, which entail incremental steps of increasing difficulty to reach goals, and role play and rehearsal to try out and practice new behaviors and roles to be used in the real world. lients how to use self-monitoring techniques, where the client records information about a target behavior, and stimulus control, the building, modification, or elimination of a stimulus-response connection so that a target response is increased or eliminated (Fraum, 2011). I observed the counselor using these interventions during the group. One of the goals of the group is prevent reoffenses. When the group started the first thing the counselor asked was if any members had and “Red Flags” during the week.
The Red Flag indicates a form of a self- monitoring technique, when the member knows that he is danger situation and must stop the behavior or leave the area. A few members recounted what had happened to them and how they solved the problem. The group was in the working stage. Up for discussion was why a member had failed a mandatory polygragh test; the member disclosed a reaction to the words child pornography. Seven members gave feedback.
According to Corey, Corey, &Corey (2010) during the working stage members trusted other members, goals were clear and specific, people feel free to bring themselves into the work of others, there is a willingness to risk disclosing threatening material, feedback is given freely and accepted without defensiveness, members feel hopeful, there is a an awareness of the group process, communication is clear and direct, and the focus is on the here and now. The group displayed these characteristics and more.
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