ATSA Forum - Vol. XXXI, Issue 4
Fall 2019  (Plain Text Version)

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In this issue:
 Editor's column
 Presidentís message
 International Committee update
 What's happening in Italy?
 Registration and disclosure: Lessons learned or same old song and dance?
 International members survey 2018 part 1: Practitioner knowledge, training and experience
 International members survey 2018 part 2: Practitioners attitudes to and understandings of community integration
 Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Exploring a new avenue for sex offender treatment
 Incel inside: Understanding involuntary celibates through dating app experiences
 International Perspectives on the Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Offenders
 Learning Difficulties and Sexual Vulnerability: A Social Approach
 ATSA Board of Directors election results
 Journal updates for membership
 Forum Newsletter Editorial Board
 New Membership Coordinator message
 Welcome ATSA's newest members

International Perspectives on the Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Offenders

Reviewed by David S. Prescott

By Douglas P. Boer, Reinhard Eher, Leam A. Craig, Michael H. Miner, Friedemann Pfäfflin 

Produced on behalf of the International Association for the treatment of Sexual Offenders

745 pages, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-1119046141

Available on Amazon for $48.05 in paperback; also available in hardcover and Kindle


The dedication page of this volume states, “This book is dedicated to those individuals who have helped to pioneer sexual offender treatment around the world – ‘advocating for humane, dignified, compassionate, ethical, and effective treatment of sex offenders.” These words most accurately describe this large edited volume: It is one of only a few that takes a truly international perspective while remaining unafraid to examine the policies of countries such as the USA. Although copyrighted in 2011, this volume was difficult to obtain for a number of years. It is now available through a number of online sources at a helpful discount.

The advocacy in the dedication reflects the mission of the International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders (IATSO), the organization that provided much of the impetus for this volume. A long-time partnering organization with ATSA, IATSO is best known for its online journal and its biennial conference, often held strategically in locations where there is a dearth of treatment options for people who have sexually abused. IATSO has developed standards of care for adults and juveniles.

This volume brings together experts from around the world – the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, and others. It begins with a section of three chapters on treatment (by Reinhard Eher and Friedemann Pfäfflin), assessment (Carol Ireland and Leam Craig), and our understanding of women who have sexually abused (Franca Cortoni and Theresa Gannon). Although new information continues to emerge in our organizations’ journals and conferences, each of these chapters remains current and lays the foundation for the sections that follow.       

Part II focuses on the assessment of individuals who have sexually abused. As one might expect, readers will wish to consider the constantly evolving research base in reading some of the chapters. Nonetheless, this section includes excellent guidance in areas such as international applications of structured professional guidelines (by Martin Rettenberger and Stephen Hucker) and risk assessment for child sexual abuse among litigious families in the family court system (by Chris Jennings, Annalese Bolton, and Emma Collins). These chapters in particular offer helpful points on the available measures and models, for example, of a comprehensive parenting assessment. Taken together, they can inform practitioners grappling with high-stakes assessment situations. Rounding off this portion of the book are chapters on phallometric assessment (by Hannah Meridian and David Jones) and proxy measures of sexual deviancy (by Wineke Smid, Daan van Beek, and Jelle Troelstra).

Part III of this book focuses on treatment issues and applications. It is this section that establishes the project as indispensable, as well as truly international. The section starts with a chapter by the late Bill Lindsey on theoretical perspectives on treating individuals with intellectual disabilities. It covers topics such as counterfeit deviance and models of pathways to offending. Subsequent chapters describe perspectives and treatment programs developed in Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and the USA. Yael Idisis and Sheri Oz contribute a chapter on working with families around secrecy and victimization. Further chapters address special populations such as psychotic patients (Leam Craig and Orestis Giotakis), those who deny any wrongdoing (Kris Vanhoeck and Els Van Daele), and considerations in pharmacotherapy (Peer Briken and his colleagues).

A highlight of this section is a chapter by Ruth Mann, Jayson Ware, and Yolanda Fernandez on the management of treatment programs. It covers topics such as implementation of the principles of risk, need, and responsivity as well as therapist characteristics. It outlines basic and advanced competencies and addresses issues related to supervision. The authors further discuss stakeholder relations and program evaluation.

Part IV focuses on human rights and ethical issues. It leads off with a chapter on program implementation from Brazil, authored by Danilo Baltieri and his colleagues. It covers topics that practitioners often find increasingly vexing as they gain experience, and considers issues related to treatment at a deeper level. These topics include confidentiality, the nature of “illness”, efficacy of programming, and considerations related to hormonal treatments. From there, the section turns to the USA, with a chapter from Jill Levenson on the intended and unintended consequences of American policies, followed by a close look by Jim Vess on human rights in risk assessment procedures. The section closes with a deeper dive into morality and legality in the use of antiandrogen medication by Karen Harrison and Bernadette Rainey.

The final part contains three chapters on future directions. This includes offerings on the role of IATSO and a chapter on Project Dunkelfeld by Steven Feelgood and Gerard Schaefer. However, the last word goes to Bill and Liam Marshall, who discuss the future of programming. They offer a concise view on the importance of process and motivational issues, increasing our ability to adopt strengths-based approaches, and new ideas for addressing cognitions, behaviors, and emotions (emphasizing a less strictly cognitive approach). They also speak to the importance of assessing treatment-induced changes as well as treatment outcome evaluation.

Among the greatest concerns that many professionals have in our field is that all too often it seems that regions and jurisdictions believe there is only one correct way to provide supervision, assessment, or treatment. With this mindset is the more implicit belief that all other approaches are therefore wrong. While prevalent, this kind of mindset is antithetical to the spirit underlying organizations such as ATSA and IATSO, which prize sharing resources and ideas. Here’s hoping for more explicitly international efforts such as this project and our organizations’ conferences.