Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NEW ZEALAND - Psychological treatment for sexual offenders is effective

Original Article

Recidivism (commission of another sex crime), in general, is already low, but there is no doubt treatment can and does help people.

11/21/2012

UC research shows that psychological treatment for sexual offenders is effective

Research by University of Canterbury (UC) students has found that psychological treatment for sexual offenders is effective and offenders who show more improvement in treatment are less likely to re-offend, UC Professor Randolph Grace said today.

That treatment helped may seem a no-brainer but demonstrating a causal link between prison-based treatment programmes and reductions in re-offending was very challenging, he said. UC research has been the first in the world to demonstrate that specific treatment gains were linked to reductions in recidivism by sexual offenders, he said.

"There’s a lot of debate about the efficacy of psychological treatment for sexual offenders and a lot of technical issues why it’s a difficult question to resolve.’’

UC masters student, Lucy Moore, supervised by Professor Grace, has examined the criminal history and post-release outcomes for 428 sexual offenders who were treated at Rolleston Prison’s Kia Marama unit.

They were compared with a cohort of 1956 offenders who were also incarcerated for sexual offending but did not receive comparable treatment.

Professor Grace said results showed that the Kia Marama psychological treatment programme was associated with a 29 percent reduction in sexual re-offending (from 10 percent to 7.2 percent) and the reduction was statistically significant.

"There were also significant reductions in violent and general re-offending for the Kia Marama group. Research by PhD student Sarah Beggs found that offenders who showed more improvement at Kia Marama in terms of specific psychological factors targeted by the programme - such as reduction of pro-offending attitudes and increased capacity to regulate negative emotions - were less likely to reoffend.’’

This study was recently published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and was important because it was the first to demonstrate that specific treatment gains were linked to reductions in recidivism by sexual offenders.

The Kia Marama Unit was founded in 1989 through the efforts of the late UC Associate Professor Steve Hudson, who previously taught in the clinical psychology programme.

Over 800 offenders have completed the Kia Marama programme since its inception, which is recognised internationally for its excellence in developing new and effective psychological treatments for sexual offenders.

UC students continue to receive world-class training in clinical practice at Kia Marama and conduct innovative research projects, supervised by Professor Grace.

Although results of some overseas studies on the effectiveness of psychological treatment for sex offenders have been contentious, the recent UC research at Kia Marama has provided some of the strongest evidence yet that treatment does work.

This week marks 50 years since the first clinical psychology training programme began in New Zealand at the University of Canterbury. UC has graduated hundreds of students assisting New Zealanders with mental health issues, from depression, to ADHD, to treating sex offenders.

A two day clinical psychology seminar will be held on UC’s campus on November 23 and 24 to mark the first 50 years.


2 comments :

Loneranger said...

In the USA the politicians state that the there is no help that can be given to sex offenders that is effective. We all know this is not true. taken from the article it says and i quote. "There were also significant reductions in violent and general re-offending for the Kia Marama group. Research by PhD student Sarah Beggs found that offenders who showed more improvement at Kia Marama in terms of specific psychological factors targeted by the programme - such as reduction of pro-offending attitudes and increased capacity to regulate negative emotions - were less likely to reoffend.’’

With all the laws the US has to contain offenders and render them leprous the capacity to regulate negative emotions by offenders and reduce the likely hood of reoffending in the future is greatly diminished. However even with all the stress places on ex offenders and their families the rates are still low. One would think if they really wanted to lower the rate more they might think about the number of offences that are a result of the system pushing people to a point where they can no longer control negative emotions creating unforeseen consequences that contribute to reoffending. If they want to save that one child and make all this worth it then why set it up to fail even if it's a small percentile of difference in the rates. Maybe backing off of people and letting them go on with their lives would be a smarter approach after say 10 years on the list and no offences?

Sex offenders have in many cases low self worth and problems controlling negative emotions already. So why contribute to this with over whelming restrictions and shaming on a public list? Making it impossible in many cases to find work, housing and in many cases meaningful relationships and support. Do we want them to fail and if so what about the children? Politicians have created this nightmare with over zealous laws that do more harm then good negating much of the work mental health professionals are doing. It's time to change this.

No_MHPs_Please said...

I'd rather have harsh politicians than omnipotent "mental health professionals" any day. Psychologists are orders of magnitude more dangerous than politicians, because they are literally trying to pass laws that allow their "professional opinion" to be all that is necessary to lock someone up. The alleged reduction (from 10% to 7.2%) here is a comparison between two studies conducted almost 50 years apart. This is not a statistically significant drop and could be explained just as easy by the fact that police pay more attention to SO's than they used to.