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Understanding self-esteem in sexual offending and exploring experiences of group therapy within a forensic learning disability service : an IPA study and meta-analytic review

By D.Clin.Pys. Gail Bellamy


How best to approach the successful rehabilitation of sexual offenders remains a very complex and highly debated issue. This is particularly the case for sexual offenders with learning disabilities. Although research findings have supported the efficacy of sexual offender treatment programmes in reducing recidivism, it is important to note that not all sexual offenders successfully engage in treatment and achieve positive change. Models of sexual offender rehabilitation rooted in positive and humanistic psychology view the development of self-worth as having a vital role in engaging sexual offenders in the difficult process of changing their lives. The following thesis aimed to extend on all of these ideas, as summarised below.\ud \ud Chapter 1 details a meta-analytic review on self-esteem in sexual offending. The paper offers strong support for the notion that sexual offenders are characterised by low self-esteem. It recommends that developing sexual offenders' sense of self-worth should form a vital component of sexual offender rehabilitation programmes. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of viewing sexual offenders as a heterogeneous group and encourages services to work flexibly with this complex population in order to meet their individual therapeutic needs.\ud \ud Chapter 2 details a qualitative research study that explored the experiences of six sexual offenders with learning disabilities of a group rehabilitation programme. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, it provides an in-depth and nuanced account of the subjective impact of the group. Recommendations are made for clinical practice, including the importance of considering group processes in sexual offender rehabilitation. Issues surrounding shame and identity are also discussed.\ud \ud Chapter 3 provides a reflective account of engaging sexual offenders with learning disabilities in qualitative research. It addresses the importance of subjectivity and how the researchers' position may have impacted on the research process

Topics: HQ, HV
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