Although psychological therapy may reduce the rate at which sex offenders re-offend, it does not cure them, say researchers from the University of London and the University of Leicester. Even so, psychological therapy, in some cases, has managed to reduce re-offending rates by 40%.

The types of sex offences covered in this study included: paedophilia, exhibitionism or sexual assault.

Sexual offending is a social problem as well as a public health issue, says the study. Convicted sex offenders generally have to undergo psychological treatment. The researchers wanted to investigate exactly how effective psychological treatment programmes are and whether they are too readily accepted uncritically?

Many say that as sex offending is not a medical problem, talking about ?a cure’ is not the right approach. It should be seen as a problem, that with the right support, can be managed.

The researchers, specialists in psychology and criminology, looked at 9 published studies of 567 sex offenders in UK, USA, Canada and parts of Europe.

You can read about this study in the British Medical Journal.

In the UK under 10% of convicted sex offenders re-offend. The UK NHS, Prison Services, and Probation Services provide cognitive behavioural therapy most commonly.

Belinda Brooks-Green, Lecturer in Psychology, University of London, study leader, said ?Offenders who successfully complete a treatment programme re-offend less often and less seriously than those who do not show that they have understood and worked through the relevant psychological issues. Better understanding of the outcomes of treatments – either controlling and moderating or harming and worsening behaviour – could at least focus on the most beneficial and cost-effective interventions.”

The report said paedophilia cannot always be successfully treated. It states that better understanding of the outcomes of treatments could at least focus on the most beneficial and cost effective interventions.

Editorial: Psychological interventions for treatment of adult sexual offenders

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today