ATSA Forum

November 30, 1999

Editor's Note

by Heather Moulden, Forum Editor

For many of us Fall is a time of new starts – a mix of returning to the comfort of routine and familiar combined with the hope and excitement of embarking on new endeavours. I hope you all had a wonderful summer and I invite you to read on and check out the stimulating and informative articles we have for you in this issue of the Forum.

There has been a movement across the field to be more thoughtful and deliberate about our language and the terms we use to refer to those with whom we work. It occurred to me that despite refraining from describing clients as “sex offenders” in my clinical work, I continued to use the term in research writing until more recently. Change is hard, but surprisingly, less hard than one would expect, when its the right thing to do.  Gwenda Willis and Elizabeth Letourneau share their insights, experiences and suggestions for ATSA members with respect to new language and the meaning attached.

Our other feature article shares critical reflection on manualized treatment, and the political/fiscal factors that influence decisions regarding treatment implementation in two states. The authors provide descriptions of how each program/state attempted to integrate the manuals into their practice, the outcomes of the experience, and the pros and con of manualized treatment.

Our committee updates come from two complimentary pieces authored by the chairs of the Juvenile and Adult Clinical Practice Committees to introduce a new regular feature in the Forum. The Clinical Corner will be a column devoted to clinical practice issues and ideas, with alternating contributions from each clinical committee. Both committees have long identified the importance of a dedicated newsletter space addressing treatment, assessment and management exclusively. Read on to learn more about it, and please look for the Clinical Corner column in your upcoming issues of the Forum.

As the conference approaches, many ATSA members are anticipating the many benefits of attending the meeting and related events. But for our students, especially those new to the field,  these rewards may be a little abstract or unknown altogether. Thankfully, Carissa Toop from the Student Committee can provide some insight as she shares her experiences becoming involved with ATSA. This is a great article to share with non-member students, and student members alike. It provides an orientation to the many wonderful student focused offerings at the conference and also the value of becoming involved with the organization.

David Prescott and Becky Palmer have included not one, not two, but three book reviews for your reading pleasure, with excellent suggestions for additions to your bookshelf. And finally, Danielle Harris kindly answered our FAQ on the use of the term “sexual harm” in this issue.

Please send me your comments, suggestion, ideas and articles. Enjoy the conference and Vancouver!

Heather M. Moulden
ATSA Forum Editor


President's Message

by Franca Cortoni, ATSA President 2018-2019

Summer has wrapped up which means our yearly conference is just around the corner. Our conference chairs, Drs. Robin Wilson and Carmen Zabarauckas, have done a fantastic job at developing an enriching program that will appeal to clinicians and researchers alike.

You will recall that elections took place earlier this summer for President, Public Policy Representative, and Research Representative to the ATSA Board of Directors. A call for interest for the Treasurer position, which is a Board appointed position, was also made at that time. A reminder that the President is elected for a 4-year term: one year as President-Elect, two years as President, and one year as Past President, while the regular Board members’ positions are 3-year terms, renewable once. I am pleased to announce your newly elected members: Our current board member and Treasurer Shan Jumper has been acclaimed as the new President-Elect; Katie Gotch, who had been temporarily filling the position of representative of Public Policy, has been voted into the position; and Jeff Sandler was voted to become the new Research Representative on the Board. Finally, the newly Board appointed Treasurer is Ainslie Heasman. Their terms will start officially in January 2019, but we are already putting them to work by inviting the new members to attend our Board meeting in Vancouver. You will also have the opportunity to meet these new Board members during the ATSA members’ lunch during the conference in October.

On the international front, a special issue on international approaches to the treatment and management of sexual offenders was recently published in the IATSO journal (IATSO is our sister organization based mostly in Europe). Coordinated by our international representative on the Board, Kieran McCartan, the special edition has 12 papers drawn from the international round table that took place at the 2017 ATSA conference. These papers detail the perspective from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, UK, and USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Israel, Belgium) from representatives of ANZATSA, ATSA, ATSA-NL, CoNTRAS-TI, IATSO, and NOTA. Each paper reviews their respective countries’ approaches to the assessment, treatment, and management of sexual offenders. I would strongly encourage you to review these papers as to gain a better understanding of, as well as learn from, the various perspectives offered in this special issue. Add link… Kieran is checking if it is available from Martin at IATSO.

Still on the international front, I am happy to report that in July, a formal affiliation agreement was signed between ATSA and the Italian organization CoNTRAS-TI (National Coordination for the Treatment and Research of Sexual Aggression - The Italian Contribution ([English translation of Coordinamento Nazionale per il Trattamento dell’Aggressione Sessuale-Testimonianze Italiane]). This agreement provides direct linkages between our two associations to facilitate the sharing of information on policies and best practices when working with individuals who have sexually offended. A representative from CoNTRAS-TI has been invited, as is current practice with all of ATSA’s sister organizations, to attend the meeting of the ATSA Board of Directors that takes place the day preceding the ATSA conference. 

Work on the International Treatment Study is progressing. The next step is to establish the parameters of the treatment program that will be tested. To that end, the international experts panel, comprised of treatment providers and researchers, is reviewing the literature to determine the core elements that constitute current best practices in the treatment of individuals who have engaged in sexual offending behavior. This is a complex endeavor to ensure our treatment program reflects best international practices. We are very lucky that so many individuals have agreed to provide their expertise to this important work. We will share the results as soon as they become available.

Until then, I hope that you will be able to join us at our yearly conference to discover the latest research findings, learn about new clinical approaches, and renew or establish new relationships with colleagues and friends in Vancouver!

Michael Miner


Is there such thing as “sexual harm” or is it always Abuse or Trauma?

By Danielle Arlanda Harris, Toni Cash, Kerri Wyeth & Kieran McCartan

Danielle Arlanda Harris, PhD, Griffith University
Toni Cash, and Kerri Wyeth, Queensland Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women
Kieran McCartan, PhD, University of the West of England-Bristol

We applaud Sexual Abuse’s recent guest editorial in which Willis and Letourneau (2018) promote the use of person first language. In light of #metoo and the “Weinstein event,” people are now engaging in nuanced public discussions about the difference between sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and sexual harassment. These are not the same thing, they do not have the same consequences, or carry the same penalties, and should not be viewed similarly. Here, we consider the specific phrase of “sexual harm.” As we continue to negotiate our use of language, we must also navigate both legislation and legal jargon as it is used across numerous jurisdictions.

“Sexual harm” is frequently used as a catchall phrase intended to include various types of violence, abuse, assault, and harm that results from sexual abuse or violence of a sexual nature. The idea of harm—as opposed to other language (i.e., abuse, trauma, etc.)—comes from the field of Zemiology, based on the idea that “harm” is more proactive and adaptive than other terms. However, the word “harm” is divisive, especially from the perspectives of criminal justice and victim advocacy groups who argue that “harm” lessens the impact and consequences of exactly what a person experiences as a result of sexual abuse.

According to the Queensland Department of Child Safety, Youth, and Women, the harm that a person experiences as a result of sexual abuse is either:

(1) Emotional/psychological harm,

(2) Physical harm or,

(3) Both emotional/psychological and physical harm.

For example, if a 16 year old girl discloses that her stepfather broke her arm three years ago, she would be referred to a doctor to ensure that the arm was set properly and the break has healed (treating the physical harm) and referred to a counsellor to attend to the emotional stress and trauma caused by the incident (treating the psychological harm). Likewise, if a 16 year old girl discloses that she was vaginally penetrated three years ago by her stepfather, she should similarly be referred to a doctor for an internal exam to ensure that there is no lasting damage, that her vagina has healed (treating the physical harm) and be referred to a counsellor to attend to the emotional stress and trauma caused by the same incident (treating the psychological harm).

Basically, if we understand the harm to be physical then we can target our intervention to the physical harm and if we understand the harm to be emotional then we can target our intervention to the emotional harm.

To be clear, “sexual violence” describes the behaviour that someone is responsible for committing. The “harm” is the resulting impact on the person who has experienced the sexual violence. Quite simply, when someone experiences violence, their resulting physical harm can be treated by a medical doctor and their resulting emotional harm can be treated by a counsellor. The challenge with the use of the phrase “sexual harm” is that it can lead to confusion over how best to help the actual harm that the person has experienced. By observing the presence of the resulting physical and emotional harm that results from the commission of sexual violence we can offer a clear direction for interventions that best cater to the needs of the individual and the actual harm they have experienced.

Hillyard, P. (with C. Pantazis, S. Tombs and D. Gordon) (2004) Beyond Criminology: Taking Harm Seriously, London: Pluto Press.

Queensland Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Willis, G. M. (2018). Why call someone by what we don't want them to be? The ethics of labeling in forensic/correctional psychology. Psychology, Crime & Law, 24 (7), 727-743. 10.1080/1068316X.2017.1421640

Willis, G. M. & Letourneau, E. (2018). Promoting accurate and respectful language to describe individuals and groups. Sexual Abuse, 30(5), 480-483.


Moving beyond the “sex offender” dialogue:
How ATSA members can promote person-first language

Gwenda M. Willis
School of Psychology, University of Auckland
Elizabeth J. Letourneau
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University


Gwenda M. Willis

Elizabeth J. Letourneau

Author Note

Gwenda M. Willis, School of Psychology, University of Auckland.

            Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gwenda M. Willis, School of Psychology, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.


There is growing recognition that individuals convicted of sex crimes can and do desist from sexual offending (Caldwell, 2016; Hanson, Harris, Helmus, & Thornton, 2014; Hanson, Harris, Letourneau, Helmus, & Thornton, 2018), that people with sexual interest in children often desire help to avoid acting on their attractions (Beier et al., 2009) and that sexual abuse perpetration is preventable (Letourneau, Eaton, Bass, Berlin, & Moore, 2014).  It would seem that to some extent, professionals and (to a lesser degree) the public are moving away from viewing everyone who has engaged in harmful or illegal sexual behavior and/or who has sexual interest in children as presenting a high risk of offending.  That is, we are slowly shifting away from viewing people who have or might sexually offend as “monsters”.  Yet the labels we use in our professional work may align more closely with the “monster” label than with a humanistic and prevention-oriented approach.  Many professionals, organizations and scholarly publications continue to label and define the people at the center of their work based on their behavior or attractions (e.g., “sex offender,” “abuser” “pedophile”[1]).  ATSA, like its sister organizations NOTA and IATSO, is no exception, using the “Abuser” label in its name.  Similarly, labels appear in the titles and content of several books currently in circulation for treatment providers (e.g., Carich & Musack, 2015; Prescott, 2009; Sawyer & Jennings, 2016; Yates, Prescott, & Ward, 2010), many treatment program names (e.g., “Sex Offender Treatment Program” or “SOTP”) and in clinicians’ and evaluators’ everyday communication.  The frequent use of such labels by subject matter experts risks ostracizing the very people we seek to help while reinforcing erroneous public beliefs that these people are beyond help. 

In August 2018, ATSA’s journal Sexual Abuse published a guideline encouraging the use of person-first language to describe individuals and groups in manuscript submissions (Willis & Letourneau, 2018).  In this article, we encourage all of our ATSA friends and colleagues to consider promoting person-first language more broadly – from the names of treatment programs and agencies, to report writing and during informal conversations with family and friends.  First, we summarize some of the problems with the offense and attraction-based labels commonly assigned to our clients. 

Problems with the “sex offender” and other commonly used labels

Labels promote misperceptions.  The “sex offender” label suggests that is who someone is. Inherent in the label is the assumption that “once an offender, always an offender.” Indeed, Harris and Socia (2016) found that survey respondents who read about “sex offenders” rated them as less responsive to treatment and were more supportive of contemporary sex crime policies than survey respondents who read about “people who have committed crimes of a sexual nature”.  Findings were even more robust for the “juvenile sex offender” label.  Yet it is well established that sexual recidivism base rates are low, and moreover, that rates decline with time spent offense-free in the community (Hanson et al., 2014; Hanson et al., 2018).  Offense-based labels further suggest that individuals with a history of sexual offending represent a homogenous group whose members all present a comparable likelihood of reoffending.  However, individuals who commit crimes of a sexual nature are diverse across most characteristics (apart from gender), including with respect to their risk profiles.  Some “sex offenders” present an above average risk of sexual recidivism, perhaps due to a combination of numerous priors, atypical sexual interest, and low connection to social institutions, whereas others assigned the same “sex offender” label present a risk of sexual recidivism indistinguishable from people with only nonsexual offense convictions (see Hanson et al., 2018). 

Offense-based labels like “sex offender,” “child molester” and “rapist” convey little about the etiology of offending, treatment needs, or future risk of specific individuals.  As such, these labels lack validity.  By contrast, other labels commonly assigned to persons who have offended or are at risk of offending are based on valid constructs (e.g., “psychopath”, “pedophile”).  Even so, these labels carry negative connotations and risk stigmatizing the person behind the label (Imhoff, 2015).    

Labels risk stigmatizing individuals and groups.  It is well documented that individuals labeled a “sex offender” struggle integrating into society; for example, they struggle securing stable housing and employment (for a review of literature on attitudes towards persons who have sexually abused, see Harper, Hogue, & Bartels, 2017).  Many labels commonly used by professionals might be perceived as stigmatizing and pejorative, and not self-selected by the individuals and groups to whom they are assigned.   Respect for the dignity of all persons is a core ethical principle in codes of ethics across the helping professions (e.g., American Psychological Association, 2010a; Code of Ethics Review Group, 2012; The Australian Psychological Society, 2007; The British Psychological Society, 2009), and addressed explicitly in the American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual (APA; 2010b).  Specifically, the APA manual states that “A label should not be used in any form that is perceived as pejorative; if such a perception is possible you need to find more neutral terms” (p. 72). 

Of course, individuals vary in their perceptions of labels to the extent that some self-select labels we might generally wish to avoid using.  Such a contradiction is evident amongst the population of individuals with sexual interest in young children.  Some individuals choose to use labels that acknowledge their sexual interest in children – for example, they might refer to themselves as “minor-attracted persons” or “virtuous pedophiles” (see also Malone, 2014).  The APA Publication Manual encourages authors to “respect people’s preferences; call people what they prefer to be called” (p. 72).  When working with an individual or writing up a specific case, it is straightforward to follow this recommendation to respect an individual’s labeling preferences.  However, how might professionals respect different labeling preferences when referring to groups of people presenting with similar psychological phenomena (e.g., pedophilia)?  Person-first language offers a neutral solution.

Person-first language

As its name suggests, person-first language separates a person from a behavior, condition or disorder (e.g., “persons with sexual offense histories,” “individual with sexual interest in children”, “child/adolescent with sexual behavior problems”).  Person-first language encourages us to describe individuals and groups with greater precision, increases the likelihood that others will perceive these individuals as amenable to intervention, and reduces the likelihood of demeaning those we describe by assigning a label that they might not self-select (see Willis, in press). 

In the broader educational and psychology literature, person-first language is commonplace.  For example, we no longer refer to individuals with intellectual disabilities as “mental retards” or even “intellectually disabled,” and persons with schizophrenia could not be labeled “schizophrenics” in modern journal articles.  We believe that with time and effort, similar change is achievable in our field.  It might be argued that individuals who have engaged in harmful or illegal sexual behavior do not deserve the same considerations as individuals with intellectual or mental health problems.  Many would say that people who cause harm, particularly sexual harm, deserve the labels they have been assigned.  We disagree.  Human rights, including the right to dignity, apply to everyone, including people who have caused harm.  While it is important to stigmatize harmful behavior, it is counter-productive to stigmatize people

How might ATSA members promote person-first language?  Sexual Abuse has set a precedent and we hope that the broader ATSA membership will follow.  We encourage ATSA members to look closely at the names of the agencies they work for, the treatment programs they run, and the academic courses and professional training programs they offer.  Are the names and titles of these efforts consistent with a person-first approach?  Or do they inadvertently reify the image of certain groups as homogenous and high risk?  Likewise, we encourage ATSA members to examine how they describe their clients or research subjects when talking with the media, during court appearances, and within clinical and scholarly writings.  Beyond work settings, we encourage ATSA members to reflect on how they describe their work and client groups to friends, family and others.  As professionals, we model for the public how to talk about and, therefore, how to think about the people with whom we work. 

We (Gwen and Elizabeth) have each used the very labels that we now protest; we recognize that changing from offense-first to person-first language is a process. We can attest that it gets much easier with practice.  We are also aware that many ATSA members initiated person-first usage long before we did and we are grateful for these efforts.  ATSA members have grappled several times with our organization’s title and will no doubt do so again.  Regardless of whether we change the ATSA name, we can all change how we describe those with whom we work.  Anything we do that makes it easier for others to view the people with whom we work as people will make our work easier and more effective. 


American Psychological Association. (2010a). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (With the 2010 Amendments). Retrieved from

American Psychological Association. (2010b). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Beier, K. M., Ahlers, C. J., Goecker, D., Neutze, J., Mundt, I. A., Hupp, E., & Schaefer, G. A. (2009). Can pedophiles be reached for primary prevention of child sexual abuse? First results of the Berlin Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD). The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 20, 851-867. 10.1080/14789940903174188

Caldwell, M. F. (2016). Quantifying the decline in juvenile sexual recidivism rates. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 22, 414-426. 10.1037/law0000094

Carich, M. E., & Musack, S. (Eds.). (2015). The Safer Society Handbook of Sexual Abuser Assessment and Treatment. Brandon, VT: Safer Society Press.

Code of Ethics Review Group. (2012). Code of Ethics for Psychologists Working in Aotearoa New Zealand.   Retrieved July 6, 2016, from

Hanson, R. K., Harris, A. J. R., Helmus, L., & Thornton, D. (2014). High-Risk Sex Offenders May Not Be High Risk Forever. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29, 2792-2813. doi: 10.1177/0886260514526062

Hanson, R. K., Harris, A. J. R., Letourneau, E., Helmus, L. M., & Thornton, D. (2018). Reductions in risk based on time offense-free in the community: Once a sexual offender, not always a sexual offender. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 24, 48-63. doi: 10.1037/law0000135

Harper, C. A., Hogue, T. E., & Bartels, R. M. (2017). Attitudes towards sexual offenders: What do we know, and why are they important? Aggression and Violent Behavior doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2017.01.011

Harris, A. J., & Socia, K. M. (2016). What’s in a name? Evaluating the effects of the “sex offender” label on public opinions and beliefs. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 28, 660-678. doi: 10.1177/1079063214564391

Imhoff, R. (2015). Punitive attitudes against pedophiles or persons with sexual interest in children: Does the label matter? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 35-44. doi: 10.1007/s10508-014-0439-3

Letourneau, E. J., Eaton, W. W., Bass, J., Berlin, F. S., & Moore, S. G. (2014). The Need for a Comprehensive Public Health Approach to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse. Public Health Reports, 129, 222-228.

Malone, L. (2014). You're 16. You're a Pedophile. You don't want to hurt anyone. What do you do now?   Retrieved from

Prescott, D. S. (2009). Building motivation for change in sexual offenders. Brandon, VT: Safer Society Press.

Sawyer, S. P., & Jennings, J. L. (2016). Group Therapy with Sexual Abusers: Engaging the Full Potential of the Group Experience. Brandon, VT: Safer Society Press.

The Australian Psychological Society. (2007). Code of ethics. Melbourne, Australia: The Australian Psychological Society.

The British Psychological Society. (2009). Code of Ethics and Conduct. Retrieved from

Willis, G. M. (in press). Why call someone by what we don’t want them to be? The ethics of labelling in forensic/correctional psychology. Psychology, Crime & Law doi: 10.1080/1068316X.2017.1421640

Willis, G. M., & Letourneau, E. J. (2018). Promoting accurate and respectful language to describe individuals and groups. Sexual Abuse, 30(5), 480-483. 10.1177/1079063218783799

Yates, P. M., Prescott, D. S., & Ward, T. (2010). Applying the Good Lives and Self Regulation Models to sex offender treatment: a practical guide for clinicians. Brandon, VT: Safer Society Press.

[1] Labels will not be used by the authors unless referring to current usage, which will be indicated by quotation marks or italics.


Pros and Cons of Manualized Approaches to Sexual Abuse Specific Treatment:
Experiences of Programs in Kansas & Oregon

Katherine Gotch, Tiffany Looney, Seth Wescott & Marc Schlosberg

Katherine Gotch

Tiffany Looney

Seth Wescott

Marc Schlosberg

There has been a recent movement, often driven by policy makers and/or correctional agencies, in varying jurisdictions within the United States for the manualization of sexual abuse specific treatment programming. The reasons for this movement have been identified as fiscal, to strengthen evidence-based practices, and/or to address resource limitations such as a lack of qualified clinical staff in rural areas. However, what are the benefits and deficits for implementing this type of scripted manualized approach?

The Kansas Experience:

The Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) contracts with a private, for-profit agency (Clinical Associates) to provide sexual offense specific evaluation and treatment services for incarcerated offenders and parolees throughout Kansas. Clinical Associates is the sole-source provider for these services and treatment is conducted at four correctional facilities and seventeen outpatient locations across the state. In 2014, following trends in correctional practices, KDOC asked Clinical Associates to implement a scripted manualized curriculum. The rationale for switching from an individualized, risk/need/responsivity approach to a scripted manualized approach was based on Kansas data which suggested that, although recidivism for sexual offenses was quite low (less than 3%), parole revocations for technical violations was much higher (close to 40%) and that a structured, skills-building approach would better assist in the reduction of criminogenic needs and lead to greater success on parole. The KDOC identified a specific curriculum to be utilized and training on the curriculum occurred in early 2015, with program implementation occurring in the spring of 2015. The first cohort finished treatment in summer 2015. Implementation proceeded slowly due to logistical issues within facilities, and only 8% of all those who completed in Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) had received the manualized curriculum. By the conclusion of FY17, that number had climbed to 68%. In FY18, 73% of all those who completed the program had received the curriculum.

Clinical Associates’ theoretical model was previously grounded on the principles of risk, need, responsivity; utilized Good Lives Model approaches; promoted healthy sexuality; focused on increasing personal accountability and decreasing dynamic/criminogenic areas of need; and used the polygraph to validate self-report. From 2011 to 2015, Clinical Associates provided facility-based programs in three prisons (and expanded to include a fourth facility in 2018). These programs lasted from four to six months (based on level of risk) and involved group and individual sessions, as well as non-traditional interventions/programming for responsivity issues for individuals who possessed high psychopathy, low intellectual functioning, and/or severe and persistent mental illness. Seventeen outpatient offices provided community-based programming which lasted from six to twenty-four months (based on level of risk) and involved group and individual sessions, as well as non-traditional interventions/programming for responsivity issues. All treatment programs were individualized and focused on stable risk factors, criminogenic needs, intimacy deficits, sexual deviancy, and pro-offending attitudes.

Since 2015, the scripted manualized curriculum has been the required programming that Clinical Associates provides within all facility-based programs and has been piloted in the community. As noted previously, a main driver for implementation of the manualized curriculum was to address parole revocations for technical violations as it was the belief that a structured, skills-building approach would better assist in the reduction of criminogenic needs and lead to greater success on parole. However, the initial data compiled by Clinical Associates has demonstrated that this goal has not yet been achieved. Additionally, as there is no longer the flexibility to individualize programming based upon the principles of risk, need, responsivity, the scripted manualized curriculum has a higher overall cost (see below).

Kansas Outcome Data








Cost per Completion




The primary responsivity issues addressed in the required curriculum are poor motivation and resistance. There are no guidelines or suggestions for altering the curriculum for individuals who are lower functioning, who have severe and persistent mental illness, or who present with high psychopathy.

Clinical Associates utilizes the polygraph as a component of treatment. In the facility-based program, participants complete and process a sexual history in preparation for the sexual history disclosure polygraph. In order to prepare participants for the sexual history assignment, treatment time must be devoted to discussing specific sexual behaviors, a topic not addressed in the curriculum.

Although the required curriculum is reported to be rooted in the risk, need, responsivity principles, the scripted curriculum itself allows for minimal variability among the different risk levels. While the curriculum is designed for use with individuals of above average and well above average risk (formerly moderate high and high risk categories), there is not a published low dosage version for those who are average or below average risk. Clinical Associates assesses all participants prior to program entry, and their Static-99R and STABLE-2007 scores are noted. Kansas’ data suggest that approximately 28% of offenders score above average or well above average risk on the combined Static-99R/STABLE-2007, leaving the majority of offenders (approximately 70%) outside the recommended criteria for participation. Rather than provide treatment to only 28% of sexual offenders, Kansas chose to include those who were average and below average risk, while excluding only those assessed as very low risk. This has resulted in a treatment program challenged to maintain best practices due to the primary curriculum it is currently required to use.

The Oregon Experience:

In Oregon, there are no institutional sexual abuse specific treatment programs and treatment services are typically provided after an individual has completed all in custody sanctions and is placed on community supervision (probation, parole or post prison). Community corrections in Oregon is also primarily county versus state managed, meaning that each county has the choice of how they may implement or pilot new programs or services within their jurisdiction. A level of statewide consistency is maintained through the Oregon Association of Community Corrections Directors (OACCD), as well as the statewide Sex Offender Supervision Network (SOSN), a multi-disciplinary professional network which guides best practice standards for sexual offense specific supervision and management.

McKenzie Counseling is a community-based agency providing sexual offense-specific treatment in Lane County, the second-largest metro area in Oregon.  McKenzie Counseling was required to pilot a scripted manualized curriculum as a condition of the contract with the Lane County Parole and Probation Department.  Several other sexual offense specific treatment programs around the state also participated in the pilot project, with varying degrees of fidelity as some programs had the ability to implement the curriculum with considerable flexibility, integrating aspects of the manualized approaches into their existing programming.  McKenzie Counseling was required to conduct a pilot with strict adherence to the scripted manual, delivering all modules completely and in sequence, without use of other materials or interventions. 

For logistical reasons McKenzie Counseling conducted the pilot as an open group, with 14 participants at the outset.  All participants scored moderate or higher on a validated risk assessment instrument (Static-99R or LS/CMI).  Attrition was 50% for the initial group due to issues with motivation, supervision violations or absconding supervision, substance use, and lack of attendance or homework completion.  Due to these attrition issues, new participants were added at open modules, keeping the group size at approximately 12 for the duration of the pilot.  Two state certified sexual offense specific master level clinicians facilitated all service delivery of the manualized curriculum. 

Although marketed as a sexual offense-specific intervention and program, it was noticeable that the scripted manualized curriculum did not directly address sexual self-regulation criminogenic needs or sexuality more broadly.  For this reason, clients selected for the pilot were those who presented with predominantly general criminogenic risk/need profiles versus those presenting primarily with sexual self-regulation needs. As such, it was recognized from the onset that these individuals were not a representative sample of adult males convicted of sexual crimes and, therefore, the generalizability of the outcome data would be limited.  However, McKenzie Counseling felt an ethical obligation to place clients whose primary areas of need related to sexual self-regulation into treatment groups where those issues would be addressed.

The manualized curriculum was presented in its entirety, as scripted, with a few exceptions.  The manual directs facilitators to limit check-in time at each group to no more than 10 minutes.  It was necessary to do away with this limitation to adequately address the concerns of our high-needs, high-responsivity clients.  Additionally, the clinicians were not comfortable treating clients without the opportunity to conduct ongoing screening for acute risk factors or have a general idea of what was pertinent in their clients’ lives in the moment.  From a more philosophical standpoint, the clinicians additionally disagreed with abdicating the transactional nature of a therapeutic interaction in favor of a unidirectional, solely didactic approach.  Ultimately, it was decided to extend the group from 90 to 120 minutes to provide adequate time to address clients’ current concerns and still meet the structured time for delivery of the manualized curriculum for each session. Client feedback revealed support for this choice as captured by this client’s statement: “If we didn’t get to check in, it would feel like all you cared about were the lessons, and not about us.” 

Client feedback was solicited at regular intervals throughout the pilot project with the clients reporting that they found the skills useful in their daily lives and also appreciated the goal-oriented nature of the sessions.  The group sessions were interactive and generally lively, with group members appreciating that everyone was working on the same thing, at the same time.  However, many of the participants also found the format repetitive and reported greater benefit when they received more explicit instruction for the skills taught. From a facilitator perspective, observed engagement was generally good, even for those clients about whom there were initial concerns regarding lack of motivation.  The manualized materials appeared to be a good fit for clients with a more concrete cognitive style, as well as those who are less sophisticated or psychologically-minded. 

However, the manual often read like a rough draft, with typographical errors, unclear directions, and sections appearing to have been cut and pasted directly from the substance abuse treatment curriculum developed by the same authors.  Rigid lesson structure made it exceedingly difficult to address client responsivity factors, while reading from a script felt artificial and demeaning for licensed mental health professionals.  There were additional instances where it was necessary to spend considerable time with certain clients individually, to address current issues that there was not time for in group.

Going forward, McKenzie Counseling intends to continue facilitating a group that works predominantly from the manual (with modifications) for clients whose dominant areas of need are related more to general criminogenic factors versus sexual self-regulation.  McKenzie Counseling additionally intends to integrate aspects of the curriculum which was found most useful into our broader program as there are features of the materials which, when delivered with flexibility and in accordance with the principles of Risk-Needs-Responsivity, would serve to promote the mission of enhancing community safety by delivering evidence-based programming to reduce recidivism risk and promote the welfare and quality of life for the clients served.               

Best Practices in Sexual Abuse Specific Treatment:

As outlined within the ATSA Adult Practice Guidelines[i], sexual abuse specific treatment is designed to assist clients to effectively manage thoughts, fantasies, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors associated with their potential to sexually abuse. In addition to reducing risk for sexual and/or non-sexual recidivism, treatment is designed to assist clients to develop a prosocial lifestyle that is inconsistent with offending. It is also recognized that effective sexual offense specific treatment incorporates the risk, need, responsivity (RNR) principles, and that sexual offense specific treatment services are matched to the assessed recidivism risk and treatment needs of a given client – individualization of treatment programming based upon validated risk/need assessment, as well as responsivity factors, has become the gold standard within sexual offense specific treatment.

Additionally, research has demonstrated that programs which adhered to the RNR principles showed the largest reductions in sexual and general recidivism[ii]. This indicates that RNR principles should be a major consideration in the design and implementation of treatment programs for individuals convicted of sexual crimes. Specifically, clinicians need to be allowed the freedom to individualize treatment by tailoring the dosage of services to the level of risk for a given client (risk principle); address dynamic risk/need factors as the primary framework for treatment (need principle); and adapt service delivery to meet the individualized treatment needs of clients in order to maximize their ability to learn (responsivity principle).

Pros & Cons of Scripted Manualized Programming

Based upon the experiences of Kansas and Oregon, the following conclusions were made regarding the pros and cons of the scripted manualized curriculum:


  • Structured and standardized approach
  • Modules are content-specific and cumulative
  • Skills taught are helpful for daily life
  • Clients work on the same things at the same time
  • Skills facilitate healthy communication
  • Connect the dots: Thoughts/Feelings/Behavior
  • Deals with lack of motivation
  • Good use of visual aids
  • Teach skills that address criminogenic needs to reduce revocations


  • Where’s the sex?
  • One size fits all - again?
  • Time constraints
  • When do we talk about risk?
  • Instruction against modifications
  • Extends treatment time
  • No outcome data
  • Does not adequately address responsivity
  • Some clients do not need these social skills
  • Does not incorporate or address trauma-informed practices
  • Does not adequately address risk/need factors that have been linked to sexual recidivism

Final Thoughts:

While there is potential utility for the scripted manualized curriculum implemented in Kansas and Oregon, it does not adhere to the principles of risk, need, responsivity or reflect best practice guidelines for sexual abuse specific treatment; therefore, the curriculum should not be identified or marketed as such. Based upon the experiences of Kansas and Oregon, it is recommended that if a scripted manualized curriculum is to be used, it should be incorporated as part of a larger sexual abuse specific treatment program, specifically the cognitive component and/or applicable exercises and handouts rather than as a stand-alone intervention or approach. The evolution of sexual abuse specific treatment has taught us that individuals convicted of sexual crimes present with differences in risk, treatment needs, motivation, and protective factors. If we accept the differentiation among those we treat, we must also make room for differentiated and individualized treatment. 

[i] Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. (2014). Practice guidelines for the assessment, treatment, and management of adult male sexual abusers. Beaverton, OR: Author.

[ii] Hanson, R.K., Bourgon, G., Helmus, L., & Hodgson, S. (2009). The principles of effective correctional treatment also apply to sexual offenders: A meta-analysis. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36(9), 865-891.


The Clinical Practice Corner: Juvenile Practice

Phil Rich

The juvenile practice and adult practice committees will begin a new “clinical practice corner” feature in each issue of the Forum, with contents that will vary from issue to issue, ranging from updates on each committee and its activities, highlights of relevant ATSA initiatives that have implications for or influence clinical practice, and other content relevant to contemporary clinical practice, and also help ensure good communication between the practice committees and ATSA membership. It is likely that the clinical practice corner will alternate between the adult and juvenile practice committees each issue, with the exception of this issue of the Forum in which both practice committees describe a little of what we’re doing as standing (i.e., permanent) ATSA committees, and what we see ahead. For the juvenile practice committee, this first clinical corner also serves as a bit of an introduction as the juvenile committee is relatively new and just beginning to take shape and develop the foundation for what we hope  will be an effective and valuable committee moving forward, in both representing the ATSA Executive Board and ATSA membership who work with children and adolescents.

A Brief Introduction to the Juvenile Practice Committee 

The Juvenile Practice Committee (JPC) was formed in early 2017, and to some degree was built on the foundation of the task-focused and time-limited committee that was formed to develop the first Adolescent Practice Guidelines, which were released by ATSA in 2017. As that committee disbanded, having completed its task, the juvenile practice committee was formed, standing on the shoulders of the adolescent guidelines committee. The juvenile practice committee is chaired by Phil Rich, the Juvenile Practice Representative on the ATSA Board, and upon inception and today is a relatively large committee, with 15 members, listed here in first name alphabetical order, including two international members (outside of North America, that is): Anette Birgersson (Sweden), Chris Lobanov-Rostovsky, David Prescott, Janet DiGiorgio-Miller, Jim Worling, Kevin Creeden, Kevin Powell, Lori Robinson, Michael Caldwell, Michelle Gourley, Phil Rich, Russ Pratt (Australia), Tanya Snyder, Tom Leversee, and Tyffani Dent.

Much of the initial work of the committee was to decide what to do as a committee and how to proceed, including the most effective and efficient way to work as committee. It soon became clear that the work of this large committee would be most effectively conducted and managed through four subcommittees: adolescent guidelines,best practices material and resources,external partnerships, and in-reach and membership liaison. These allow more focused work and are each smaller in size than the full committee, and also allow for additional subcommittee members who are not themselves members of the JPC. There is certainly crossover between and interaction among subcommittees, and several JPC members are on more than one subcommittee.    

The Four Subcommittees

Each of the subcommittees is focused on fulfilling tasks identified in the ATSA strategic plan, as well as developing additional tasks that we hope will enhance practice. The adolescent guidelines subcommittee focuses on ensuring that the adolescent practice guidelines remain dynamic and incorporate new and relevant research and best practices material into the next revision of the guidelines, as well as working toward disseminating the practice guidelines. As an early task, the subcommittee has developed a set of key readings that is intended to supplement the current adolescent practice guidelines, and this will be made available through the ATSA website in the near future. The subcommittee is also working to develop a template of sorts for those wishing to provide training in the use of the adolescent practice guidelines.

The best practices subcommittee is developing fact and information sheets to reflect and enhance clinical best practices, and is in the process of developing several of these at the moment. Once completed, these will be further reviewed by the full JPC, and then the ATSA Board before being placed onto the ATSA website. We see this process as ongoing, with a goal of building an inventory of contemporary practice fact and informational sheets aimed primarily at professionals, but also useful to the general public. The external partnership subcommittee is focused on identifying and building partnerships, quite possibly on an ad hoc or informal basis, whereas more enduring and formal partnerships remain in the domain of the full Board and ATSA administration.

Finally, the in-reach subcommittee has the goal of outreach within ATSA (hence the name of the subcommittee). This subcommittee developed the recent membership survey (described below) and is focused on ensuring strong communication between the JPC and ATSA membership. Additionally, the subcommittee is working to develop a set of juvenile practice webpages embedded within the ATSA website that will provide links to juvenile practice materials and information, as well as a contact page for members who wish to contact the juvenile practice committee.    

Other Committee Work

We’ve formed a small working group to review ATSA’s 2006 Report of the Task Force on Children with Sexual Behavior Problems, with the goal of revising or updating the report if necessary. In addition, the JPC has just begun  working on a cross collaborative initiative with the Public Policy Committee on juvenile sex offender registration.

Membership Survey

As many will know, the juvenile practice committee (through the in-reach subcommittee) recently asked the ATSA membership to complete a brief survey. We received 369 responses, which represents about 12 percent of ATSA membership - so thank you very much! Four survey multiple-choice questions were asked, each of which additionally provided an opportunity to enter comments, although these were limited in length. A fifth “open” question, allowed for additional general comments, also with a limitation in length. 

Question one asked how membership envisioned the role/purpose of the juvenile practice committee. Among the responses, most felt that they wanted the JPC to keep membership updated about ATSA policies, papers, and resources; preparing and making available best practices materials and resources; disseminating the adolescent practice guidelines and keeping these updated and dynamic; and periodically pointing to significant articles addressing juvenile practice.

With respect to question two, asking how the JPC can be of greatest value, the most common response was to notify membership about resources or matters that influence juvenile practice, and secondarily providing periodic updates about what the juvenile practice committee is up to.

Question three asked how the JPC can best communicate with membership. Most responses suggested a website presence within the ATSA website and a regular spot in the Forum.

Question four asked about frequency of JPC communication to membership in general, and the most common response was quarterly or more frequently if there is something specific to communicate.

The final question,question five, was actually not a question at all, but instead provided an opportunity for thoughts or comments (limited in length), and provided a range of responses.

Of course, the survey results, including comments, are too detailed to include here, but this link will take you to a more detailed summary that will give a clearer sense of responses. Happily, as I hope this brief article describes, the JPC is already engaged in or on the way to engaging in many of the activities and initiatives described in survey responses.  

Meet Us at the 2018 Annual Conference

The juvenile practice committee held a “meet-and-greet” at the 2016 ATSA conference, and we’ll be doing this again at this year’s conference in Vancouver. If you’re attending the conference (and we hope you are), mark your calendars to join us on Thursday, October 18 from 5-6 pm. We’ll begin with a 10-15 minute overview of the committee’s work and goals, and then be available to answer questions, meet conference participants, and build contacts and connections.

The conference looks excellent and has plenty of offerings for those working with young people. A glance at the conference brochure shows at least 16 pre-conference seminars focused on work with youth, including those applicable to adults or youth, and at least 57 conference workshop sessions on Thursday and Friday aimed at youth  work or work with adults and youth. Hope to see you there!

Wrapping Up

We don’t yet have a contact page set up on the ATSA website, but if you have any questions about the juvenile practice committee feel free to contact the committee chair, Phil Rich:  


The ATSA Adult Clinical Practice Committee

Anita Schlank

The Adult Clinical Practice Committee serves as a resource for providers who treat adult males who have sexually offended.  The mission of the committee includes updating treatment providers about ATSA policies and papers, updating the Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Adult Male Offenders, and disseminating new relevant research. 

History and Membership:

The Committee began in 2014, but has undergone several membership changes.  The first Chair of the committee was Jennifer Wheeler, followed by a brief period chaired by Pamela Yates.  The current co-chairs of the committee are Anita Schlank and Shan Jumper, both Clinical Directors of SVP programs, with Anita directing the Virginia program and Shan directing the Illinois program.  Members of the committee include Adam Deming (Executive Director at Liberty Healthcare in Indianapolis, Indiana), Jill Levenson (Professor of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL), Anton Schweighofer (private practice in Burnaby B.C.), Carla Xella (private practice in Rome, Italy), and ATSA’s Executive Director, Maia Christopher.  Pamela Freske (Associate Director of Behavioral Health for the Minnesota Department of Corrections in Minneapolis) and Amber Lindeman (private practice in Minneapolis, MN) are rotating off the committee, and Deirdre D’Orazio (private practice in Atascadero, CA) has just joined.

Membership Survey:

In early 2017, a survey of the membership was conducted to determine how the Adult Clinical Practice Committee could be of the most benefit.  260 members responded to the survey and indicated that they would be interested in the committee providing additional information and resources about several topics, with the top five topics being Internet & Child Porn Offenders, Assessing Treatment Needs and Change, Risk-Needs-Responsivity, The Self-Regulation Model, and Group Therapy Techniques.  Within the topic of responsivity issues, members noted that they were most interested in a focus on Psychopathy, Trauma-Informed Care, Treatment of Denial and Intellectual Functioning.  Members responding to the survey indicated that their preferred method for obtaining this information would be through free webinars, followed by a dedicated page on the ATSA website and a special column in the ATSA Forum.  Results of this survey have guided the work of the committee.

Committee Work: 

In addition to reviewing the Practice Guidelines to determine if revisions are needed, the committee has begun work on several other projects.    Several short, videotaped lectures are being developed on various topics to be made available for free to ATSA members from the Members Section of the website.  Scheduled to be filmed are Bob McGrath on Effective Aspects of a Sex Offender Program, Steve Sawyer on Group Process, and Sandy Jung on understanding the Risk Needs Responsivity Principles.  Committee members are also working to develop links to available articles on various treatment-related topics.  These links will assist those who quickly desire to catch up on relevant research and other publications in certain areas.  Links have already been created to direct members to the available articles on the topics of Group Process, Treating Denial, Assessment and Treatment of Deviant Arousal, and use of EMDR.  These links, along with the videotaped lectures will soon be posted to a dedicated “Clinician’s Corner” section of the ATSA website.  Most recently, the Adult Clinical Practice Committee has been tasked by ATSA’s President to begin development of guidelines for institutions when evaluating and/or choosing programs.

If you have ideas about how the committee can be a more helpful resource for treatment providers, please contact Anita at  Or meet us at the 2018 Annual Conference.  Mark your calendar for Thursday October 18, 2018, from 5 pm – 6 pm in the Constable room, and join us for a joint meet and greet with the Adolescent Practice Committee. 

The ATSA Student Experience:
A Personal Anecdote on Attending the Conference and Joining the Student Committee

Carissa Toop

As an undergraduate student it was recommended to me by my supervisor, Dr. Sandy Jung, that I attend the ATSA conference. At the time, I knew very little about the field of sexual abuse, but was excited about the opportunity to attend my first international conference. I had little idea of what I could expect, including whether I would enjoy taking part in academic conferences. Fast forward five years and I have yet to miss an ATSA conference – I am hooked! Each year, I look forward to the ATSA conference and all that is has to offer. The opportunities for students are endless. In addition to high calibre presentations and workshops, the ATSA conference provides numerous student-focused networking events. My personal favorite is the Next Generation Reception – a laid back environment where students have the chance to meet well-known researchers whose work inspired them to attend the conference in the first place (and did I mention there is also free food!). Through these opportunities, I have made a number of meaningful professional contacts and acquired a passion for research pertaining to sexual abuse. Each year I look forward to reuniting with the friends and colleagues I have met at ATSA and discussing the latest developments in the field and new ideas for research.   

After a few years, I realized how much the ATSA conference had given me and I wanted to give back by becoming more involved in the behind the scenes work. For me, this meant becoming involved with the ATSA Student Committee. The principle objective of the ATSA Student Committee is to support the next generation of professionals dedicated to preventing sexual abuse. To do this, the committee oversees a number of different operations and events that make this conference inclusive and meaningful for students including:

  • The Student Clinical Case and Data Blitz – a symposium consisting of rapid, 5-minute presentations examining important issues related to the prevention, assessment, management, and treatment of individuals who engage in non-consensual sexual behaviours. This event primarily features student presenters, allowing students to obtain experience presenting in a symposium format at an international conference. ATSA 2018 will host the 5th Annual Student Clinical Case and Data Blitz. All are welcome to attend this year’s event during the Thursday Concurrent Program (T-27; October 18th, 2018 from 1:30 – 3:00pm). 

  • Student Poster Awards – during the poster sessions, high quality research and visual presentation is recognized through two awards. A prize is available for the top student poster of each poster session. Newly graduated professionals are also eligible for these awards if their research had been completed while they were a student. This year’s poster sessions will be held on Thursday, October 18th, 2018 and Friday, October 19th, 2018 from 5:15 – 6:00pm.

  • Next Generation Reception – the reception is a “backstage pass” designed to connect student attendees with leaders in the field. This is a comfortable, social environment where students can network and engage established researchers in the field of sexual abuse in lively conversation to discuss issues and ask questions. This event is open to students attending the ATSA conference and will be held this year on Thursday, October 18th, 2018 from 6:30 – 8:00pm. Important: This event requires an invitation and thus, if you have not already done so please send your RSVP to Kelly McGrath at

  • Preparing the Next Gen Workshop – This past conference, the ATSA Student Committee hosted a free half-day preconference workshop focused on developing professional skills critical to a successful career. Due to its popularity, this workshop is returning for the 2018 ATSA Conference as a FULL-DAY preconference workshop FREE for students. It will be held on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 from 8:30am – 5:00pm.

In recent years, under the guidance of ATSA Student Representative Andrew Brankley, these events and other critical tasks have been divided among a group of dedicated students who share the same passion about ATSA as I do. It was a highly rewarding experience to see these successful student events unfold at ATSA 2017 in Kansas City knowing that I played a role in helping accomplish this. If you are a student who enjoys ATSA and is interested in getting more involved I highly encourage you to consider joining the ATSA Student Committee. For more information regarding the Student Committee please contact Andrew Brankley, ATSA Student Representative, at

I look forward to seeing you all at ATSA 2018 in Vancouver!

Carissa Toop


Carissa Toop, B.A. (Hons.) is a graduate student of Clinical Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. Prior to her graduate training, she earned a bachelor’s degree (honours) in psychology from MacEwan University. Broadly speaking, Carissa’s research and clinical interests lie in the assessment and treatment of sexual and non-sexual violence. She has published and presented on the topics of risk assessment, intimate partner violence, and sexual offending, and is a member of the ATSA Student Committee. Carissa is currently completing her doctoral degree under the supervision of Dr. Mark Olver. Her dissertation research will focus on the application of the Violence Risk Scale (VRS), a multi-purpose risk assessment tool, to intimate partner violence.


Two by Jeglic and Calkins

Submitted by David S. Prescott, Forum Review Editor

These two reviews focus on two professors of psychology at John Jay College and prolific contributors to our field, Elizabeth L. Jeglic and Cynthia Calkins. Jeglic and Calkins are each on the Editorial Board of Sexual Abuse, also known by members as “The ATSA Journal.” The first is an edited volume intended for a scholarly audience, while the second is for a general audience readership (primarily parents and teachers) interested in protecting their children.

Sexual Violence: Evidence Based Policy and Prevention
Elizabeth L. Jeglic and Cynthia Calkins, Editors
2016: Springer, New York
336 pages, USD $138.00

Policy and prevention have long been a primary interest of ATSA members, with the organization focusing for many years in these directions through its committee work, amicus briefs, white papers, etc. This edited volume serves as a “who’s who” of researchers in the field of policy and prevention. It is an excellent follow-up companion to the ATSA task force report edited by Keith Kaufman in 2010 and published in collaboration with NEARI Press.

Jeglic and Calkins start the volume off with an overview of the issues addressed in subsequent chapters without summarizing their highlights. Brandy Blasko provides an overview of considerations regarding the typologies, recidivism, and treatment of people who have sexually abused. In some cases, the use of historical language may be surprising (e.g., situational versus preferential child molesters), but Blasko’s intent is to provide a historical framework that serves as a springboard to what follows.

Policy chapters focus on the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (Kristen Zgoba and Deborah Ragbir), residence restrictions (Jill Levenson and Claudia Vicencio), civil commitment (Michelle Cubellis and Andrew J. Harris), Internet sexual offender laws (Ashley Spada), and the use of electronic monitoring as a supervision tool (Stephen V. Gies). Each chapter is well-researched, often by the acknowledged leaders in the field (e.g., Jill Levenson on residence restrictions). In some cases, there may have been a slight over-reach in attempts to place each topic in context (there is, for example, a discussion of castration in the chapter on electronic monitoring that may appear out of place), but the overall result is above reproach: each chapter extends beyond what one might find in the literature reviews of scholarly journal articles. Indeed, some chapters are themselves extended studies.

The second half of the volume focuses on prevention and includes chapters on public health approaches to preventing sexual violence (Ryan Shields and Kenneth Feder), situational approaches (Stephen Smallbone), community-level approaches (Sarah DeGue, Tracy Hipp, and Jeffrey Herbst), measuring the outcomes of prevention programs (Gwenda Willis and Natalie Germann), a social norms change approach to prevention (Elizabeth Miller and colleagues), proactive strategies to prevent child abuse and the use of child abuse images – the Dunkelfeld Project (Klaus Beier), providing help to young men who are sexually attracted to children (Luke Malone), the use of civil commitment in prevention (Eric Janus), and the economics of policy and prevention (Anthony Perillo).  

As one might expect, the writing and editing make for an easily accessible read, especially for those professionals in areas (such as treatment provision, education, or research) that have an interest in policy and/or prevention. It is an excellent opportunity to catch up on projects (such as Dunkelfeld) and various authors and their perspectives (Eric Janus has written entire books in the area of civil commitment). Likewise, it provides newer perspectives and information (Willis and Germann’s chapter on outcomes and their implications being a prime example).

In the end, the authors and editors are clear in their assessments (e.g., residence restrictions “are a failure”) and recommendations. Although more expensive than other volumes, it provides the best overview of the issues to date in a single book.

Protecting Your Child from Sexual Abuse: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Kids Safe
Elizabeth L. Jeglic and Cynthia Calkins
2018: New York, Skyhorse Publishing
158 pages, USD $8.99

Jeglic and Calkins teamed up for this volume in the wake of the above academic project. Available in print and electronic forms, this smaller volume provides a needed overview for parents. It is comprehensive without becoming overbearing and will find a different audience than previous works by authors such as Melissa Pirwani and the late Jan Hindman.

The structure and writing are user-friendly and informative. Professionals in the field (including those in child welfare as well as those assessing and treating abuse) can use this as a reference for parents. It moves from an overview of myths and realities into what one can expect from sex offender registries. It then focuses on how to start difficult conversations and addresses the limitations of the well-known “good touch bad touch” approach. From there, the volume turns into the direction of online dangers and the perennial question of whom one can trust in these situations. The authors then follow a developmental pathway, from talking to your tween, to talking to your teen and finally the college years. The book concludes with an excellent overview of ways that readers can help their communities to stop sexual violence and provides questions for group discussions.

Armed with the knowledge described earlier, the authors were almost uniquely poised to produce this book. It is an excellent resource, plain and simple.


The Safer Society
Handbook of Assessment and Treatment of Adolescents Who Have Sexually Offended

Review Submitted by Becky Palmer, MS

Edited by Sue Righthand, PhD and William D. Murphy, PhD.

Professionals who have provided clinical services to adolescents or have parented adolescents know just how quickly teens change and grow. So it is with the field of assessment and treatment of adolescents who have sexually offended. Many years ago, the assessment and treatment programs for adolescents were often pared down versions of what was being delivered to adult sex offenders. Developmentally we know that teens are different than adults, they are still growing and changing. This specialization, in the past, while wanting to attend to the needs of teens and their families, didn’t always get it right. In the very early days, adolescents who had committed sexual offenses were treated as criminals and questioned like adults. What we know and understand about adolescents who have sexually offended has increased many fold over recent years to better meet the needs of these youth.

Sue Righthand and Bill Murphy, who have co-edited this compendium, have gathered a cadre of experts in the field, to author numerous chapters which shed light on what is currently best practice for adolescents who have committed sexual offenses.

What the reader will find in these five hundred and thirty-one pages are fifteen chapters dedicated to helping professionals understand the recent best practices as they relate to adolescents who have sexually offended. This book is divided into four sections: Part I Characteristics of Adolescents Who Sexually Offend consists of four chapters outlining adolescent development, the legal implications for youth who sexually offend, the search for distinctive features of juveniles who sexually offend and the life course view of juvenile sexual offending. Part II Assessment dives into forensic assessments of juveniles as well as the best clinical approaches for high quality assessments. And lastly in this section, an excellent chapter identifying risk assessment tools that have historically been used to assess risk. This chapter identifies the categories that need to be covered and addressed in the youth’s risk assessment report. Part III Intervention outlines how best to engage the adolescent and family into the treatment process, what is currently evidence-based practices and treatment and the many considerations for community reentry and family reunification. While this section doesn’t explain how to do therapy, each author has been diligent to provide a multitude of references for the reader. Part IV Special Issues is mindful to direct the reader to consider the assessment and treatment of youth with developmental disabilities as well as how trauma impacts the mental health concerns of each youth in treatment. Importantly, in this section adolescent females who sexually offend is being addressed and helps the reader to identify the different treatment and assessment needs. Bringing us into the 21st Century the chapter on pornography use and youth produced digital images among adolescents will be most helpful to treatment providers. Any book about adolescents who sexually offend is not complete without addressing the policy issues surrounding the criminological perspective.

Co-editors Righthand and Murphy have chosen authors whose expertise is providing the reader with historical context and moving into current best practice. The reader should not be disappointed that this book is not a “how-to” do assessment and treatment of adolescents who have sexually offended but should revel in the fact they have been provided a sound framework of theory, history and insight into what a responsible and ethical practitioner needs for delivering competent treatment and assessments for youth and their families.

Readers can certainly expect to find robust bibliographies at the end of each chapter. Each author has done an excellent job of outlining the needs of youth who have sexually offended and each reader will be pleased to have this book to refer to when updating their knowledge and practice, or redesigning existing programs to meet the needs and challenges of working with adolescents who have sexually offended.


2018 ATSA Conference Events


Networking Event
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, October 17, 18, 19 | 7:45 am – 8:15 am
Start your morning off with a brief networking experience sure to put a smile on your face. Some of the most memorable and valuable opportunities at a conference come from the people you meet, so join us for a 30-minute networking event to broaden your professional circle, experience a new approach to networking, meet some new colleagues, and possibly win one of our wonderful door prizes! Great for those new to the ATSA conference as well as long–time members. All are welcome!

2018 Public Policy Reception
Wednesday, October 17 | 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Interested in registry reform? Government policies that impact the work we do? Becoming more involved in ATSA's public policy activities? Then join the ATSA Public Policy Committee (PPC) for an informal reception to learn more! An open forum meet-and-greet with no host bar. The event is open to all conference attendees.

Opening Reception
Wednesday, October 17 | 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Come and greet old friends, welcome first–time attendees, and renew your spirits. This evening features an introduction to Vancouver hospitality, great food, and a well-deserved opportunity to celebrate! Casual attire suggested. All conference registrants are welcome!


Networking Event
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, October 17, 18, 19 | 7:45 am – 8:15 am

Special Movie Screening "Coming Home"
Thursday, October 18 | 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
This film by Bess O'Brien focuses on five people returning back to their Vermont communities from prison and the innovative COSA program (Circle of Support and Accountability) that helps reintegrate folks back into their daily lives. The COSA program is run through Vermont’s Community Justice Centers and is part of the restorative justice model. Discussion to follow led by Derek Miodownik of the Vermont Department of Corrections.

Thursday Plenary Session
Ruth E. Mann, PhD
Being Evidence–Based

Thursday, October 18 | 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Ruth was head of HM Prison Service’s Sex Offender Treatment Programme between 1994 and 2011. Since this time, Ruth has been seeking a better understanding of the nature of evidence– based policy and practice in correctional settings. Some of the challenges she has encountered include deciding when evidence is of sufficient quantity and quality; overcoming confirmation bias and correctional quackery; and re–assessing practice when an approach believed to be evidence–based is evaluated and did not work. in this presentation Ruth will illustrate these challenges and suggest some tactics for surviving them.

ATSA Adult Clinical & Juvenile Practice Committees Meet–And–Greet
Thursday, October 18 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
The adult Clinical and juvenile Practice committees invite conference participants to meet members of the committees for an informal meet–and–greet. We will begin with a 10–15 minute overview of the committee’s work and goals, and then be available to answer questions, meet conference participants, and build contacts and connections. We hope you’ll join us!


Networking Event
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, October 17, 18, 19 | 7:45 am – 8:15 am

Friday Plenary Session
Gerald Oleman
An Indigenous Perspective on healing for Sexual Offenders

Friday, October 19 | 9:00 am – 10:00 am
This presentation will create understanding for all practitioners involved with indigenous clients. In my experience as a practitioner, I have found that many indigenous clients will not participate in counselling and treatment offered to them. I have known survivors of residential school that were referred to therapy and after their first session would not return to therapy. I inquired why and they responded that the therapist did not understand them. Using indigenous methodology I have had success with individuals and families. The hope is to create a collective endeavor to build programs that are culturally relevant and to share alternative methods I have used successfully. The question is, “can indigenous methods meld with orthodox therapeutic modals?” I believe that if we put our minds together, we can create successful programing on healing for our clients.


Saturday Plenary Sessions
Robert J. McGrath, MA | R. Karl Hanson, PhD, CPsych
How Much Intervention Is Enough?

Saturday, October 20 | 9:00 am – 10:00 am
Individuals with a history of sexual offending are often considered to have a lifetime, enduring propensity to commit sexual crime. There is, however, a growing body of research showing predictable declines in the risk for sexual recidivism based on risk and needs, normal aging, and the amount of time spent offense free in the community. instead of being exceptional, desistance appears to be the norm. Consequently, we could benefit from having a common language about how to communicate risk and needs, consider how best to facilitate naturally occurring desistance, and consider the point at which our interventions no longer meaningfully promote public safety.
Join us in listening to Robert McGrath's conversation with Karl Hanson as they discuss his research and its implications for risk assessment.

Erick Janssen, PhD
A Myriad of Forces: The Impact of Sexual Arousal and Other Emotions on Sexual Behavior and Decision Making

Sexual arousal is a motivational state and emotion that can impact behavior and decision making. it interacts in complicated ways with other emotions, including anxiety and sadness, and is under the control of both excitatory and inhibitory processes. i will present recent findings of questionnaire and psychophysiological studies examining the complex nature of the relationship between sexual and nonsexual emotions and of research on the effects of individual differences in the propensity for sexual excitation and inhibition on sexual response, function, and behavior, including hypersexuality and sexual aggression.

Download the 2018 Conference Brochure.


Public Engagement Event

Welcome Incoming Board Members

Congratulations to our newly elected and appointed Board Members.



Shan Jumper
Rushville, Illinois



Katherine Gotch
Portland, Oregon
Public Policy Representative



Jeffrey Sandler
New York,
New York



Ainslie Heasman
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


To nominate yourself or a colleague for the ATSA Board, submit your nominations beginning in March, 2019.

The following positions will be available for nomination for the 2019 Election:

Elected Representatives:

  • Juvenile Clinical Practice

  • Adult Clinical Practice

  • Student

Appointed Representatives:

  • Membership

  • At Large (2 positions available)

  • At Large (International)


2018 ATSA Awards

In recognition of those who have made significant contributions to our mission of managing individuals who sexually offend and to the prevention of sexual violence through research and treatment, the ATSA Board of Directors will announce the recipients of this year’s awards. in addition, ATSA’s Board of Directors will announce the recipient of the Graduate Student Research award and Research Grant selected from submissions by graduate students who have completed research focusing on either sex offenders or sexual abuse victims.

Join us for the award presentations at the 2018 ATSA Conference on Thursday October 18 and Friday, October 19, 8:30 am – 9:00 am in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Lifetime Significant Achievement Award
Michael C. Seto, PhD, CPsych

Dr. Michael C. Seto's applied and theoretical contributions directly influence what we understand about the onset of sexual offending, primary prevention and the deterrence of sexual offending as well as persistence in offending, risk assessment, online offenders and child sexual abuse imagery. encouraging growth and debate, Dr. Seto’s openness and willingness for critical analysis of his own work and of others’, his sharing of research through multi-media avenues, and his mentoring and support of students gives much credit to broadening our field and is vital to encouraging growth and debate within the field. His work has directly influenced, and will continue to, how we assess and engage in treatment with individuals who have committed sexual offenses, how we work with their families and victims, and how we can best protect our communities. With over 10,000 citations of over 80 articles, two solo authored books, 28 chapters, and hundreds of presentations, Dr. Seto’s prolific and accomplished research record will continue his effect on our field for years to come.


Gail Burns-Smith Award
Joann Schladale, MS

Joann Schladale is the founder and executive Director of Resources for Resolving Violence, a mental health agency that provides in-home, trauma-informed services. She facilitates trainings for therapists, law enforcement officers, advocates and other professionals on topics including intra-familial sex offenders and youth with sexual behavior problems.

For over 30 years, Joann has been transforming the lives of victims, perpetrators, family members and professionals with innovative strategies and compassion within the fields of sexual and domestic violence. Often referred to as a guiding light in the career of professionals she has given trainings to, Joann Schladale’s trainings have shaped trauma informed and restorative approaches and processes, providing empowerment and a renewed passionate about the work we do.


Student Research Awards & Grants


Graduate Research Award
Sarah Paquette, PhD Candidate
The Development and Validation of the Cognitions of Internet Sexual Offending (C-ISO) Scale



Pre-Doctoral Research Grant
Rebecca L. Dillard, MSW
Maltreatment, Emotional Responses to Abuse, and Trauma Among Adolescents Engaging in Sexual or Non-Sexual Delinquency


New ATSA Members

The following ATSA members were approved for Membership from June to September 2018.

Denise Ackermann, LCSW
Indianapolis, IN


Shawndre Jones, MA
Arcadia, FL

Elisha Agee, Psy.D.
Charlottesville, VA


Peter Kuhns, Psy.D.
Durham, NC

Scott Altamirano, LMFT
Santa Rosa, CA


Desiree LaBlanc, MPA, CADC
Des Moines, IA

Alexander Andersen, LPC
Laramie, WY


Dory LeClair Lippert, MSW, LCSW
Henderson, NV

Anthony Andrews, LPC
Charlotte, NC


Patricia Ledoux, M.S. Psychology
Biddeford, ME

Alisa Anthony, M.S.
Little Rock, AR


Charles Lenahan, M.A., LAPC, NCC, CSOTS
Tyrone, GA

Patrick Aron, LLPC
Cadillac, MI


Sean Lennon, LMHC
Jamestown, NY

Kristin Austin, MSW, APSW, CSAC,ICS, LCSW (Temp)
Janesville, WI


Laura Levin, LCSW

Laurie Barnes, LPC
Evart, MI


Nickole Long-End, Masters
La Grande, OR

Brianna Bartels Rohrbeck, Ph.D.
Waupun, WI


Matthew Lorenz, MS, AJS-GHS
Evart, MI

Lisa Bauschelt, LMSW
Phoenix, AZ


Shakti Giulietta Madrigal-Pingol, MA, LMFT
Santa Rosa, CA

Shauna Bean, BS, JD
Silvana, WA


Loretta Manning, LPC
Stockbridge, GA

Robert Beattey, Jr., JD, PhD
Long Beach, CA


Larry Marshall, LPC
St. Charles, MO

James Besson, Psy.D.
Waupun, WI


Jonathan Mason, LCSW
Eatontown, NJ

Erin Bickley, M.S., LAPC, NCC
Tucker, GA


Kirsten Mason, PsyD
Bakersfield, CA

Kelley Blackwell, LMFT
Waverly, TN


Merri P. McCarthy, LGSW
Bemidji, MN

Ian Blair, LCSW
Kalamazoo, MI


Wendy McGinnis, Ph.D.
Mitchellville, IA

Leonardo Bobadilla, Ph.D
Hillsboro, OR


Colton McNutt, PsyD
Canon City, CO

Bradley Boivin, Psy.D.
Janesville, WI


Jose Mejia, MD, PhD FRCPC
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Joy Boston, B.S. Psych.
Bemidji, MN


Karina Mellen, BS
Bemidji, MN

Etta Brodersen, PhD
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada


Susan Mills, Dpsych (Forensic)
Launching Place, VIC, Australia

Terry Jo Brooks-Devlin, NP Psychiatry
Rochester, NY


Kathleen Moore, M.Ed.
Indiana, PA

Selyna Brown, MSW
Kingston, NY


Brooke Morse-Karzen, Psy.D.
Joliet, IL

Kelsey Burrows, M.A.
Anchorage, AK


Sarah Moss, MSc.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Kristin Carlson, Ph.D.
Tacoma, WA


Janice Munson, MA, LMSW, British ColumbiaBA
Woodward, IA

Emily Carter, LCSW, LSOTP
Chicago, IL


Jean-Claude Nicolas, LMSW
Middletown, CT

Sumeeta Chatterjee, MD
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Chris Nordstrom, LCSW
Missoula, MT

Mary Jeanne Chavez, MSC, LAC
Tucson, AZ


Mehrnaz Peikarnegar, M.S.W.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Ashok Chhabra, Psy.D.
Camp Hill, PA


Gary Ralph, D.O.
Grand Rapids, MI

Vivian A. Clark, MSW
Charlotte, NC


H. Elise Reeh, PhD
Mission, British Columbia, Canada

Jessica Conroy, PhD, LMHC, MCAP
Ocala, FL


Mavis Ring, Psy.D.
San Jose, CA

Christi Cooper-Lehki, D.O.
Morgantown, WV


Jennifer Ritchie, J.D.
Seattle, WA

Elyse Crosswell, MPsych (Forensic)
Melbourne, VIC, Australia


Jonathan L. Rosario, Psy.D.
Moose Lake, MN

Carla Dassinger, Registered Clinical Psychologist
Mission, British Columbia, Canada


Kathryn Ross, JD
Seattle, WA

Keith Davis, Psy.S. LSP
Woodward, IA


William Ross, Ed.D.
Houston, TX

Jamie Declercq, MSW, LISW
Lima, OH


Angela Rushmeyer, B.A.
St. Cloud, MN

Mary Denning, LMSW
Holdbrook, NY


Erica Rutledge, LPC/I
Piedmont, SC

Michael Dolan, MA
Brevard, NC


William R. Samek, Ph.D.

Shawn Duffee, Ph.D.
Jefferson City, MO


Deborah Newby Sapp, MSSW
Huntsville, TX

Abigail Eck, M.A.
Huntsville, TX


Jamie Saunders, LMHC
Gainesville, FL

David Ejchorszt, LMSW
Meridian, ID


Aiden Schermerhorn, BA
Bemidji, MN

Erika Elkins
Waukegan, IL


Dawn Schiro, LCSW, BACS
Slidell, LA

Robert J. Elsen, LPCC
St. Peter, MN


Michelle Schmid-Egleston, M.A., LP
Red Wing, MN

Abigail Finch, LCSW
Mishawaka, IN


Jacquelyn Shair, MBA, MS
Huntsville, TX

Micah Fleitman, MA
Fairfax, VA


Molly Shepard,
Palo Alto, CA

James Fonti, L.M.S.W.
Farmingdale, NY


Daria Shewchuk, PhD Clinical Psychology R. Psych.
Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Shaquera Fowlkes, MA, MA, LP-MHC, CASAC-T
Brooklyn, NY


Connie Shlimovitz, MA Ed
Mauston, WI

S Joy Fox, PsyD, LPC
Denver, CO


Velda Simmons, Master/LCASA
Charlotte, NC

Carol Franklin, LMHC, LCAC
indianapolis, IN


Ahvegyil Skolnick, MSW
Poughkeepsie, NY

Maricruz Garcia, LMHC
Brooklyn, NY


Kelly Slaven, LCSW Supervisor
Dallas, TX

Sharon Gingola, LCSW
Liberty, NY


Barbra Spotts, MSC/CCMH, MS/P
Phoenix, AZ

Deborah Given, LCSW


Margot Stanhope, LMHC
Bradenton, FL

Victoria Gonsalves, LMHC
Kew Gardens, NY


Una Starr, MH352
Honolulu, HI

Karin Gorseth, LCSW
New York City, NY


Eli Stoll, M.S.
Terre Haute, IN

M. Michelle Gourley, MFT, LCSW, JD
Salt Lake City, UT


Kelli Thompson, Ph.D.
Auburn Univesrsity, AL

Sophie Grahame, MSW/RSW
Pilot Butte, SK, Canada


Robin Thompson, M.Ed., British ColumbiaBA, LABA
Badwinville, MA

Krystal Gray
Elkhorn, WI


Antonia Tombari, M.A., LMFT, CCSOTS
Spokane, WA

Meghan Grout, LPC
Middletown, CT


Leonard Uchendu, LMSW
Jackson, MI

Sally Gulmi, M.Ed
Barre, MA


Agnes Venson, CSOTP
Fairfax, VA

David Hall, MSW
Watertown, NY


Olga M. Viera, Psy.D.
Orlando, FL

Patti Harmer, MS
Carlsbad, NM


Stephanie Wachter-Papenfuss, MS, LPC, SAC
Mauston, WI

Winnie Hatcher,
Olympia, WA


Deborah Waldinger
Antrim, NH

Cheryl Heimann, LCSW
Norfolk, NE


John Walker, MSW
Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada

Jennifer Helsel, LLPC
Evart, MI


Cassidy Wallis, B.A.
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Angela Hiebsch, MS
Bemidji, MN


Sandy Walls-Tustin, master's in counseling psychology
Poteau, OK

Paul Hoard, Ph.D., LCPC
Olathe, KS


Cathy Walters-Gilhuly, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Elizabeth Hoel
Mesa, AZ


Cassandra Wayterra, MSW, LMSW
Mesa, AZ

Chester Hoernemann
Glencoe, MN


Rachel Webb, LCSW
Ithaca, NY

Brian Holoyda, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
St. Louis, MO


Eugene Wells, LCSW
Forest Hills, NY

Catherine Howson, M.A.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Nicole Wildroudt, MS, CDCA II
Trotwood, OH

Katherine Huncovsky
Las Vegas, NV


Julie Williams, MSEd, LMHC
Tampa, FL

Kristi Hunziker, MSW
Yakima, WA


Sally Williams, Psy.D.
Fox Lake, WI

Russell Hyken, PhD
St. Louis, MO


Tawny Williams
Elk Grove, CA

Maggie Ingram, MHS
Baltimore, MD


Jeffrey Woodward, BS
Evart, MI

Daniella Jackson, Ph.D., LMHC
New Port Richey, FL


Jonathan Young, B.A.
Pekin, IL

LuAnn Jefferson, LPC, LCAS
Arden, NC


Leslie Zanette, M.Psy
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Kimberly Johnson, PsyD
Oakdale, CA




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