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The Contemporary Model of Treatment For Sexually Abusive Youth: An Overview of a Best Practices Model

This full-day presentation will provide an overview of contemporary assessment and treatment for children with sexual behavior problems and adolescents who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior. This model is substantially different in many respects than the assessment and treatment models that first guided treatment, and is most recently reflected in ATSA’s 2017 adolescent practice guidelines. Treatment has become far more nuanced than was formerly the case, recognizing the complexity and wholeness of our clients and their behavior, and the factors, many of which lie in the social environment rather than “within” the child or adolescent, that contribute to, trigger, and maintain or reinforce behavioral problems, including sexually abusive behavior. Treatment is far more attuned to the relational and collaborative aspects of the treatment process, and as a whole treatment focuses as much, or more, on factors related to social competence and social connection and broad behavioral characteristics than on the sexually abusive behavior alone, through a is trauma- and attachment-informed lens. With respect to assessment, we see similar change over time, toward a holistic assessment in which the young person’s behavior, including sexually abusive behavior, is recognized existing within a large socio-ecological environment and cannot be fully understand without this larger focus. An estimated level of risk for future sexually abusive behavior is less meaningful and useful than an understanding of why the young person may be at continued risk, under what circumstances, and driven by what factors, as well as recognizing strengths and protective factors in each case. The key role of social competence, including self-regulation and healthy sexuality and behavior, will be discussed, as well as elements of treatment that aim at the development of social competence. The presentation will address and seek participant input, and specific opportunities will be provided for participant questions and comments.


At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will …

  1. Recognize the role of the therapeutic treatment relationship in the treatment of sexually abusive behaviors
  2. Be able to describe changes in the contemporary model of assessment for juvenile sexual recidivism
  3. Recognize the importance of treatment for a broad range of treatment issues, including an significant emphasis on social skill development and the development of social competence.