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Clinical Assessment of Sex Offenders (From Handbook of Sex Offender Treatment, P 19-1 - 19-15, 2011, Barbara K. Schwartz, ed. - See NCJ-243091)

NCJ Number
Rachel A. Freund, Ph.D.; Michael J. Dougher, Ph.D.
Date Published
15 pages
This chapter explains the process of assessing sex offenders, including the use of offenders' social history, a variety of various psychological tests, and the use of the penile plethysmograph in conducting a physiological assessment.
Three assumptions underlie the discussion of sex offender assessment. First, sex offenders comprise a heterogeneous population that cannot be characterized by single motivational or etiological factors, so an assessment must consider the specific factors pertinent to an individual's offense and the psychological characteristics of the individual offender. Second, current techniques allow effective treatment of some, but not all, sex offenders. Third, adequate treatment involves a comprehensive and individually tailored treatment program that takes into consideration the acts committed by the offender as well as his/her motivations and psychological characteristics. If valid, these assumptions emphasize the importance of a comprehensive, in-depth assessment of the offender prior to treatment planning and implementation. Specific issues that must be addressed in the assessment are the nature of the offense; victim characteristics; antecedents of the crimes; previous offenses; level of psychopathology; developmental history; educational history; social history; sexual history, experience, and knowledge; religious beliefs; occupational history; level of anger; awareness of emotions; level of responsibility and ability to empathize; cognitive distortions about men, women, and children; and sexual arousal. The outline of assessment procedures addresses clinical interviews, psychological tests, projective tests, and objective tests. Other sections of the chapter discuss the assessment of social skills and psychophysiological procedures. A concluding comment notes that there is a continued need for research in the areas covered, especially in identifying the most effective treatment procedures and outcome measures according to individual offender assessment profiles. 65 references


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