Changes in Coping Following Treatment for Child Molesters

Journal article
Canadian CW research

Serran, Geris A.
Moulden, Heather
Firestone, Philip
Marshall, W.L.

Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Volume 22, Issue 9, pp. 1199-1210

Research with sexual offenders has suggested that there is a need to go beyond classical relapse prevention treatment in order to focus on effective styles of coping with high-risk situations. This study aimed to determine whether child molesters would demonstrate improved coping abilities following a modified form of cognitive-behavioural relapse prevention (RP) treatment. The study compared a group of 60 convicted adult child molesters who entered a 4- month treatment program to 27 convicted adult child molesters who did not. The treatment combined elements of RP with an approach that focused on acceptance of responsibility, selfesteem, social competence, understanding the offense process and risk factors, and development of a self-management plan. Data were gathered from self-reported surveys after treatment. Results showed that the treated child molesters demonstrated a significant increase in the effectiveness of their abilities to cope with risk. However, they continued to demonstrate an emotion-focused coping style, which has been linked to various dimensions of psychopathology that could lead to re-offending.