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Cognitive methods37

Cognitive methods are based on findings that many sex offenders in general exhibit aggressive sexual behavior, manipulate others, lack empathy for their victims, and minimize, deny, and rationalize their abusive behavior. Cognitive methods assume that their sexual behavior is addictive and results from incorrect beliefs, anti-social attitudes, maladaptive thoughts, a lack of sexual knowledge, and impaired communication and social skills.

Cognitive methods usually involve group discussions led by a therapist who uses workbooks and assigns homework. Discussions usually address the following issues:

Cognitive methods usually rely on the relapse prevention model to help offenders cope with situational variables that may lead to offending, such as negative emotional states, interpersonal conflicts, and tempting environmental factors. This model has been adapted from addiction recovery models, based on the assumption that the offender’s sexual behavior is addictive and compulsive.

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37. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1999*; Center for Sex Offender Management, 1999*; Crawford, 1981; Hall, 1996.

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