Date of Submission
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology
Beverly White, PsyD, Chairperson
Stephanie H Felgoise, PhD, ABPP
William F Russell, PhD
The management of sex offenders is a collaborative effort that typically includes law enforcement and treatment professionals. The management of sex offenders has focused largely on assessing for risk and need of the offender, with limited attention paid to addressing responsivity factors of the sex offender, such as worldview, interpersonal style, and cultural influences. In an effort to understand how therapists perceive the influence of responsivity factors, this study explored sex offender therapists’ perceptions of the inclusion of spirituality in sex offender treatment. The investigator conducted semi-structured interviews with sex offender therapists who had at least 1 year of experience working with sex offenders. In addition, each participant completed a demographic questionnaire and the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality. Five themes emerged regarding the usefulness and challenges of including spirituality in sex offender treatment: spirituality is an enhancement, spirituality is initiated by the client, safe environment, spirituality is not formally included in treatment, and spirituality can be a barrier to treatment. The contextual factors related to these themes emphasized the importance of training for sex offender therapists to feel confident and skilled to include spirituality in sex offender treatment and the importance of developing a client-centered approach to support autonomy in treatment planning. Implications for further study include training for sex offender therapists and examining treatment outcomes when spirituality is included for specific sexual offending groups in various therapeutic settings.
Bennifield, Vanessa, "The Inclusion of Spirituality in Sex Offender Treatment" (2014). PCOM Psychology Dissertations. 305.