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 • The Established (but still evolving) Internship at the Shiloh Program
 • Vicarious Trauma: What are the protective measures?
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Picking Up Where Programs Leave Off
 • Book Review: Assessment and Treatment of Sex Offenders: A Handbook
 • Book Review: The Other Side of Desire
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Vol. XXI, No. 4
Fall 2009
Book Review: Assessment and Treatment of Sex Offenders: A Handbook

By Anthony R. Beech, Leam A. Craig, & Kevin D. Browne (Eds.)
Wiley Blackwell, 2009

As a practitioner working with men who have committed sexual offences, I was immediately drawn to this book both by its title and its editors and contributors, these being the top researchers in this field. Initially I was put off by the price (£97.00 in hardback [in the UK, over $160.00 USD on Amazon—Editor]), but the soft cover was much more reasonably priced at under £30 (North American readers should check http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-047001900X.html —Editor). The book is packed from cover to cover with information and, although it could be used as a textbook, it is also very readable.

The book starts with an overview by the editors, explaining that it is in multiple sections: risk assessment, approaches to offender assessment, assessments for specific populations, interventions for specific populations, and policy and practice. An introduction by Jackie Craissati links attachment problems to sexual offending. Craissati suggests that all sexual offending represents a failing on behalf of the offender to achieve intimacy in a pro-social manner. She places the aetiology of sexual offending within the cognitive, social, and psychobiological attachment models and comments on attachment across a lifespan rather than just in childhood. The introduction concludes with notes on implications for treatment and notes, interestingly, how attachment patterns may affect the relationship between the offender and risk agencies, such as probation and the police.

The first chapter of the risk assessment section of the book describes the evolution of static, dynamic, stable and acute dynamic risk factors in a clear and concise manner making it understandable for students or practitioners keeping up to date with current theories. The chapter also highlights the dearth of research into juvenile and female sexual offenders. However, these subjects are covered later in the volume. The section concludes by looking at the predictive accuracy of risk assessment and describes relevant tools, their applications, and limitations. This would help practitioners in making the choice of the most appropriate measure.

The section on assessment begins with a description of how to develop a risk-based formulation in order to understand the individual offender’s offence pattern and facilitate relapse prevention. It continues with a clear explanation of psychometric assessment of sexual deviance and how this relates to risk and treatment need. In line with the rest of the book, this section makes the material accessible and easy to apply to practice. The next chapters explore measures of sexual deviance, such as attention-based measures, phallometry, and the polygraph, and the section concludes with a chapter relating to a subject about which there is less published—the assessment of sexual addiction. This particular chapter discusses co-morbidity with other addictions, and the behaviours likely one is likely to observe (such as using sex as a coping strategy). This chapter also looks at the expansion of sexually-oriented sites on the internet, with an eye to the future and the increase in female viewing of sexual internet images. Each chapter provides up-to-date research and provides the reader with knowledge of the measure and its benefits and limitations.

The next section of the book concentrates on specific populations, including those who offend against women—differentiating between sadistic, angry, opportunist, and compensatory types. The chapter on internet offenders suggests that these persons are not a homogonous group, but describes five pathways to such offending. The author then relates offending via the internet to risk of further offending. The section continues with chapters on abusers with intellectual disability, with personality disorders, and juveniles addressing the lack of information in some of these areas.

In a section looking at interventions, international international contributors range from Tony Ward describing his ‘Good Lives Model’, to William and Liam Marshall with Matt O’Brien describing how to modify deviant sexual interests. Ruth Mann and William Marshall discuss treatment for incarcerated male adults, while Hilary Eldridge and Donald Findlater describe community residential treatment. The relevance of the latter piece is not entirely clear, given that the treatment described ceased in 2002. Further, although ‘in 2004 the Home Office announced that further residential facilities would be established’ (p. 350), this has not occurred. This section continues with descriptions of treatment for intellectually disabled offenders and those with mental illness. Lawrence Jones relates the research on working with sexual offenders with personality disorders in a range of settings, and how this differs from other interventions. Phil Rich discusses working with adolescent sexual offenders.  This section concludes with a description of the issues arising from working with female offenders.

The final section of Beech et al.’s book looks at policy and practice, starting with Kevin Browne suggesting how to prevent abuse in families; highlighting how the treatment described is limited to North America, Western Europe, and Australasia. Browne then describes a less published area—How the police work to detect sexual offending.  He notes a somewhat disturbing statistic:  ‘For every child who is identified as sexually abused, there are approximately 400 other child victims who are undetected’ (p. 517). Browne goes on to describe the complexity of investigations and the possible combination of agencies that could be involved. He introduces the work of the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), which is continued in the next chapter by Hazel Kemshall and Jason Wood who describe how high risk offenders are identified and managed. Finally, Dennis Doren describes actuarial risk assessments in the USA in a chapter peppered with quotes, case law precedents, and a conclusion that proposes an alternative to the use of actuarial instruments.

This is certainly a book I would recommend to students and experienced practitioners, alike. As someone who falls into both camps, I am sure I will be referring back to this volume a great deal.

Geraldine Akerman is a Senior Forensic Psychologist at HMP Grendon, UK. 

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