Adults Who Have Sexually Offended or Feel At-Risk Need Very Specialized Help

Sex offender treatment is different than other therapies for adults.

Sex offender treatment is a serious and encouraging process which focuses on learning specialized strategies for stopping abusive behavior, being accountable and taking responsibility for harm done. For the vast majority of those adults and juveniles who have committed a sexual offense, treatment significantly reduces the future risk of sexually abusing a child. Treatment does not offer amnesty or excuse abusive acts, nor is it intended to punish or humiliate participants. A central focus of treatment is to help an individual create a better life for themself by developing their strengths while managing risk. Sex offender treatment is offered by therapists who specialize in working with adults and youth with sexual behavior problems.

What happens in treatment for sexual behavior problems?

Programs are often in community-based mental health programs or agencies and generally require sessions on a weekly basis in a group setting and are facilitated by a trained professional. In treatment you will learn strategies, develop skills and get peer and professional support to manage and control thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are potentially harmful.

There are often ground rules and agreements that all participants must follow in order to remain a member of the group. Many people are court ordered to sexual offender treatment but others may choose to go on their own. Treatment plans may include group/individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, polygraph (lie detector test), specialized testing and/or prescribed medications.

Is what I tell my therapist confidential?

What an individual tells his or her therapist is confidential; however, there are certain circumstances when a therapist must break that promise of confidentiality. Laws in all 50 states require a therapist to contact authorities if a patient is a danger to themself, to others, and/or if the therapist suspects that a known child has been abused. These reporting laws, as they are applied in your state, are explained to all adults and to guardians of children who seek professional counseling for any reason. Understanding this limitation to the confidentiality offered in sex-specific treatment is important, and applies to anyone seeking medical care or mental health services. 

How do I find a specialized therapist near me?

Treatment for sexual behavior problems is highly specialized which means that the professionals who do this work have received specific training in this area. Some mental health professionals know and understand these issues, but many do not have the specialized knowledge and background. The resources below offer referrals for adults and youth with sexual behavior problems and for those who are offending. No identifying information is required in order for you to obtain the names and numbers of therapists near you.