Aebi, Marcel

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Aebi
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Marcel
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What Kind of Therapy Works With Juveniles Who Have Sexually Offended? : a Randomized-Controlled Trial of Two Versions of a Specialized Cognitive Behavioral Outpatient Treatment Program

2022-12, Aebi, Marcel, Krause, Chiara, Barra, Steffen, Vogt, Gunnar, Vertone, Leonardo, Manetsch, Madleina, Imbach, Daniela, Endrass, Jérôme, Rossegger, Astrid, Schmeck, Klaus, Bessler, Cornelia

There is ongoing debate about whether specialized treatment is effective to reduce sexual recidivism in juveniles who have sexually offended (JSOs). Although most treatment programs are based on cognitive behavioral therapy principles for preventing sexual offending, accordant scientific evidence is poor. Following CONSORT guidelines, the present study aimed to evaluate two versions of a short-term outpatient treatment program for JSOs in Switzerland: (a) the Therapy Program for Adequate Sexual Behaviors Version 1 (ThePaS-I), which included offending-specific skills training; (b) the ThePaS-II, which included general socioemotional skills training. Based on changes in self-reported mental health, sexual behaviors, victim empathy, and therapist-rated risk, as well as comprehensive data on sexual and general recidivism, we found some similarities regarding the effects of the two treatments. ThePaS-II showed better short-term changes in self-reported mental health than the ThePaS-I. However, JSOs in the ThePaS-I showed lower rates of sexual reoffending (but not general reoffending) after treatment than those in the ThePaS-II. Despite some methodological limitations, the current findings favor offending-specific skills-based therapy over general skills-based ones for preventing sexual reoffenses. The findings may encourage further methodologically sound studies to examine different treatment approaches for juveniles and adults who have committed criminal offenses.