Holiday time is fast approaching, as is the end of another year. Before I get to letting you know about this quarter’s edition of the Forum, let me first express my best wishes for all those who work tirelessly to make their communities safer by ensuring that evidence-based, best practice models are used in managing and supporting those at risk to sexually abuse. Whatever your religious or spiritual orientation, belief system, or the like, I wish you well for your down time with family and friends.
As we come to the end of the year—actually, the decade—this is a good time to stop and reflect on what has gone before. It seems like only yesterday we were setting off millennium fireworks and preparing for Y2K and the end of the world. Apparently, the world is still teetering on the edge of disaster (if you’ve seen “2012”), but I digress. This will not be an exhaustive list, but here are a few examples of the many important things that happened in the ATSA research and treatment world over the past decade:
- Actuarial risk assessment tools now govern a lot of what we do. This is particularly true in the relatively new world of SVP—most of which has also come about in the last decade. Further, we clearly have much work to do on this, as evidenced by the recent retooling of the Static-99 (now –R) and news that other scale constructors are thinking about doing the same.
- We have seen a major shift away from Relapse Prevention—the first real model of sexual offender intervention—in favor of the Pathways/Self-Regulation Model, as represented in the Good Lives Model. Although many of us are still unconvinced that this is the be-all-and-end-all for treatment, it represents a radical departure from sex offender specific treatment to truly embracing the need and responsivity elements of the Andrews & Bonta RNR model. Comprehensive is our new zeitgeist.
- Great gains have also been made in understanding the brain and behavior aspects of deviant sexual behavior. Our incoming editor for Sexual Abuse, James Cantor, is at the forefront of a line of research using brain imaging to help us better understand where this all comes from. The possibilities are mind-boggling.
- We finally have some credible data regarding treatment outcome. There are several meta-analyses pointing to positive treatment effects. While I acknowledge that we must continually strive for excellence in research and program design—in sincere deference to those who would point to SOTEP as the fly in the ointment—I also believe that there is much to be hopeful about. To paraphrase ATSA members Jeff Abracen and Jan Looman, the question is no longer so much “what works?” but “what works best?”
- ATSA has truly come into its own as a real organization with real things to say about important matters. We are close to realizing our goal of becoming the go-to group when it comes to issues regarding sexual abuse. Between our Public Policy efforts, the focus on prevention (see the ad for the ATSA-sponsored publication edited by former President Keith Kaufman, also in this issue), and our continued efforts to provide support and encouragement to the field—including the recently composed Strategic Plan—we have clear directions for achieving the excellence to come.
I’m really excited…
In this issue, we have some really cool stuff. In fact, I am particularly thrilled to be breaking new ground as to the format of our newsletter. At the recent Dallas conference, the DSM-V Paraphilias Subworkgroup held a well-attended symposium, followed by a vigorous question and answer session later in the day. This is incredibly important stuff—too important not to make it available to all ATSA members through the Forum. In this issue, Drs. Ray Blanchard, Niklas Långström, Martin Kafka, and Richard Krueger (the Subworkgroup, and all familiar ATSA members) share their conference presentations and notes on their work towards establishing research-based diagnostic criteria for the Paraphilias section of the upcoming DSM-V. The implications of this project are vast, and the Subworkgroup includes information as to how ATSA members might be able to take part in the discussions leading to the final product. I think you’ll be as interested to read these submissions as I am thrilled to offer them here in the Forum. I want to publicly thank Sarah Gorter (the closest thing I have to a Production Editor) of the ATSA Office for the extra time and effort she put into making sure these presentations transferred nicely from PowerPoint to Word to HTML. I also want to give sincere thanks to Subworkgroup Chair (and my friend of 25 years), Dr. Ray Blanchard, who spent many hours helping me massage presentations into Forum pieces. Once upon a time, in the Great White North, Dr. Blanchard shared in bringing me into this field. It was truly great fun to work with him again.
Further, this issue, Drs. Reid Meloy and James Reavis remind us of the pitfalls inherent in offering treatment services to those with particularly entrenched antisocial values and attitudes, also known by most as psychopaths. In another interesting perspective piece, Tim Horton gives us his thoughts on the sometimes complicated inter-twining of religious beliefs and interpersonal violence, as applied to the recent Garrido case in California. Last, we have a book review by my colleague, Dr. Donald Pake, of the Florida Civil Commitment Center (he just got his ABPP, so congratulations to Don).
In closing, I want to remind you all that the call for 2010 conference abstracts has gone out—the deadline is February 27, 2010; see the call for abstracts piece, also in this issue. I have no doubt that the Phoenix conference will rise to its “Transformation” tagline (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Be safe, be well, and enjoy your Winter 2010 issue of the Forum.
Robin J. Wilson, Ph.D., ABPP
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