On the Lived Experience of Sex Offenders’ Therapists: Their Perceptions of Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Consequences and Patterns of Coping

Haneen Elias*, Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the last two decades, there has been a growing understanding that the therapeutic encounter with sex offenders takes a cost and has consequences on therapists. Despite the increasing research on the consequences of treating sex offenders, these studies in fact, have merely described the consequences, without providing an outlook for how therapists cope with them. The study presented in this article was part of a larger qualitative research project conducted among social workers, using in-depth semi-structured interviews. Emphasis is placed on therapists’ perceptions of the intrapersonal and interpersonal consequences they experience from treating sex offenders, as well as the strategies they use to cope with these consequences. The study’s central findings concern the therapists’ perception of the intrapersonal consequences, which included two levels: primary responses and cumulative responses, and their perception of the interpersonal consequences that included their parenting relationships, intimate relationships, their attitude toward others (strangers and acquaintances), loss of their quality of life, and further positive consequences. The findings indicated a sequence and integrated use of the strategies to cope with the consequences. The results are discussed in light of the theoretical framework of Lazarus and Folkman’s stress and coping theory. The limitations of the study as well as its implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)848-872
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2016.

Keywords

  • consequences
  • coping strategies
  • sex offender therapists
  • sex offenders
  • therapist–offender encounter

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