Cognitive behavioural therapy has been recognised as the leading method of treatment for non-disabled men who have committed sexual offences, but men with learning disabilities are often excluded from such treatment groups. However, there is a growing body of evidence of the effectiveness of this approach for men with learning disabilities as well.
There have been few follow ups of these studies, and the researchers in this study set out to look at what had happened to a number of men with learning disabilities who had attended group cognitive behavioural treatment (CBT) for sexually abusive behaviour.
What they did was identify thirty-four men from seven different treatment sites who had undergone cognitive behavioural therapy and looked at current outcomes .
All of the men had attended groups run by SOTSEC-ID, the Sex Offender Treatment Services Collaborative based at the Tizard Centre in Kent. ()
The mean length of follow-up, since the end of the treatment group, was 44 months (SD 28.7, range 15–106 months).
What they found was that the statistically significant improvements in sexual knowledge, empathy and cognitive distortions which had been outcomes of the treatment had been maintained at follow-up.
Eleven of the thirty four men had shown further sexually abusive behaviour, with two receiving convictions.
When they looked at which variables might be associated with further sexually abusive behaviour, they found an association with a diagnosis of autism.
The authors conclude that the study provides evidence of the longer-term effectiveness of group cognitive behavioural therapy for men with learning disabilities and sexually abusive behaviour.
Men with Intellectual Disabilities who have Attended Sex Offender Treatment Groups: A Follow-Up, Heaton K & Murphy G, in Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 26: 489–500
Sex Offender Treatment Services Collaborative – Based at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent at Canterbury