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Adolescent Exhibitionists - Theory and Therapy

NCJ Number
Journal of Adolescence Volume: 10 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1987) Pages: 45-56
D Green
Date Published
12 pages
The author's clinical experience with some 20 adolescent exhibitionists has influenced him to view their misconduct as socially directed and influenced by their developmental status rather than as a manifestation of individual or family pathology.
Adolescent offenders are prevalent in reported incidents of indecent exposure. The exhibitionist act has characteristics of other modes of 'strategic interaction' used by juveniles, i.e., it is planned as a means of gaining a reaction from viewers that will be emotionally satisfying to the actor. The dynamics of exhibitionist acts, however, vary from offender to offender. Effective therapy depends upon the therapist's determining the unique motivation of the particular offender. Therapeutic strategies must be designed to counter these motivations and help the client to develop constructive behavioral alternatives to meet the emotional and social needs that spawned the exhibitionist behavior. A confrontative and interrogatory interview has proven most successful in provoking clients' reflective analysis on their behavior. Three clinical vignettes illustrate the model in action, and the theoretical limitations and practical difficulties of the model are discussed. 42 references.