Checklists and Tools

Contrast: Traditional vs. Sex-Specific Therapist

Traditional Therapist Sex-Specific Therapist
Offers dynamically oriented therapies (talking therapies) that don’t directly reduce sexual interest in children. Offers sex-specific treatments that use cognitive-behavioral techniques to drastically reduce or eliminate a patient’s sex drive toward children.
Knows little about the development of a sex drive toward children and frequently reacts emotionally to a patient with this disorder. Trained to deliver sex-specific therapies to patients with sex drives toward children and to maintain objectivity.
Not trained to proceed with those molesting patients who habitually lie, deny, conceal, and state that they don’t want or need therapy. Trained to proceed with the treatment of molesting patients irrespective of their denial.
Has one focus, the patient’s welfare. Has a double focus: The children who must be protected and the patient’s extinction of sexual interest in children.
Trained to assess whether a patient is a danger to himself (suicide risk) or to others (murder risk). Trained to assess murder risk, suicide risk, and the risk that the patient will molest a child.
Usually delivers outpatient therapy that begins and ends in the therapist’s office. Organizes a plan to monitor the patient’s activities outside the treatment setting.
Tests: Rarely uses objective measures to monitor treatment success. Tests: Uses objective measures to prove treatment success.
Medicines: Not trained in use of SSRIs and Provera to alter sex drive. Medicines: Trained in use of SSRIs and Provera to alter sex drive. 
Success: Partial degrees of recovery are acceptable.  Success: Sex-specific therapy must stop sexual desire for children and protect potential victims.
Patient determines when the therapy ends. Therapist determines when therapy ends.

Six Questions to Ask When Selecting a Sex-Specific Therapist

Question What You Want To Hear Why
How many patients with a sexual interest in children do you treat in a year? 20 or more cases Generally, the more experienced the therapist, the more knowledgeable he or she is about effective treatment.
Do you use sexual interest testing, plethysmography or polygraphs as part of your evaluation? Yes Without objective testing, the therapist has to make recommendations based on incomplete information.
If you are a psychiatrist, do you prescribe medications such as SSRIs or Provera for some of your patients with paraphilias?* If you are a licensed therapist, do you have a working relationship with a physician? Yes Ideally, you want a therapist who can prescribe medication if needed, or who works closely with a physician who can prescribe.*
Do your treatments include covert sensitization, aversion or satiation to directly reduce sexual interest in children?* Yes Sexual interest in children is associated with child molestation; therefore, a sex-specific therapist should have this skill.
Do you use cognitive-behavioral and relapse-prevention therapies? Yes Cognitive-behavioral therapies are the most effective means of preventing child molesters from molesting again.*
Do you belong to ATSA (the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers)? This is the national association for sex-specific therapists. Yes Membership suggests a greater likelihood that the therapist has had appropriate training.

A Checklist to Help Parents, Teachers, and Counselors Identify Children with a Possible Sex-Specfic Problem.

A Checklist to Help Parents, Teachers, and Counselors
Identify Children with a Possible Sex-Specfic Problem


 

  • Any child using sexual language beyond his or her age group. This suggests that the child has been looking at sexual material or engaging in sexual behavior beyond his or her age group.

 

  • Any child who acts out sexually at school or home.

 

  • Any child who continues to engage in chronic sexually harassing behavior after an adult has told the child to stop.

 

  • Any child who others report as having excessively sexually provocative behavior.

 

  • Any child who attempts to get another child or adult nude; especially at school or outside the home.

 

  • Any child who is overly attentive to younger children (three or more years younger).

 

  • Any child suspected of having a sexually transmitted disease.

 

If any child or teenager you know falls under any of these categories, that child may be developing an inappropriate sexual interest in other, younger children and/or may have been sexually molested. As an adult hero, there are actions you can take.

A child exhibiting this type of behavior needs an evaluation by a sex-specific therapist to determine the cause of the behavior. That therapist can provide a treatment plan to stop the developing inappropriate sexual interest in its tracks and/or can refer a victimized child to a therapist who specializes in child victims of sexual abuse. Sometimes both types of treatment are necessary.

It is an unfortunate fact that some children who are molested also develop their own inappropriate sexual interest in other, younger children (because of the molestation and through no fault of their own) and are at risk to become future molesters without a professional intervention. The greater the number of molestation incidents, the greater the chance that the molested child may develop an inappropriate sexual interest in other, younger children. It is also possible for children who have never been molested to develop an inappropriate sexual interest in other, younger children (also through no fault of their own). In either case, professional help from a sex-specific therapist is necessary.

Sex-specific therapists and therapists who specialize in child victims of sexual abuse are two very different types of therapists and each should be consulted for each separate problem. Most therapists who specialize in the treatment of molestation victims do not have the specialized training or tools to effectively treat a child’s or teenager’s developing inappropriate sexual interest in other, younger children. To find a qualified sex-specific therapist, please refer to Six Questions to Ask When Selecting A Sex-Specific Therapist and Sex-Specific Therapy Sites by in North America. A child or teenager who has been victimized or who is developing an inappropriate sexual interest in other, younger children needs an adult to intervene to make sure he or she gets the specialized help needed. You can be that adult.

Moreover, if someone is currently sexually abusing the child, an adult needs to take immediate action to protect that child from further molestation and to ensure that the abuser no longer has access to any other children. The abuser also needs to receive immediate treatment from a sex-specific therapist. Protective actions may include contacting the police, contacting child protective services, removing the abuser from the home with children (or from any job or activity that provides the abuser with access to children) and immediately enrolling the abuser in treatment with a sex-specific therapist.

Above all, don’t ignore the warning signs. Take action. Seek professional help. Be an adult hero. Your action may save many children.

* Checklist reprinted with permission of Gene G. Abel, M.D. and Nora Harlow (authors of The Stop Child Molestation Book, What Ordinary People Can Do In Their Everyday Lives To Save Three Million Children. All profits from book sales donated to The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute.).

Act to Heal the Sexually Abused Child

Sexual abuse is happening to three million children in the U.S. – that means in an average eighth grade classroom of 30 children, six children are currently being sexually abused.

Act:

  1. View child sexual abuse as a health problem.
  2. Be the capable adult who will help a child with this problem.
  3. Protect the child physically. Separate the child from his or her abuser.
  4. Protect the child emotionally:
    1. It is NEVER the child’s fault, repeat this fact often to the child.
    2. As a parent, say you will always love the child. Show the child that this is true with words and behavior.
    3. Tell the child that very likely, other children in the classroom have this problem.
    4. Tell the child that very likely the abuser has a health problem, and may need medicine and other treatments.
    5. Let the child know that he or she never has to be in the same room with the abuser – even a father, brother, uncle – if the child doesn’t wish it.
    6. Take the child to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of sexually abused children.
    7. Protect the child victim, especially boy victims, from developing a sexual interest in younger children with a second-step to good health. Be sure, with the help of a sex-specific therapist, that a boy victim (especially a boy who has been repeatedly sexually abused) does NOT develop a sexual interest in younger children. Be aware that this sexual interest in younger children might lie dormant until the onset of puberty and then become a health problem for the child

Act to Heal the Child Who is Sexually Abusing Other Children

In the average eighth grade classroom with the six sexually abused children, there is a seventh child with a sexual health problem. This child – usually a boy – is sexually abusing younger children.

Most men who, after the age of 16, develop the disorder pedophilia show signs of the disorder early in life.

At the age of 9, 10, 11, 12, and in their early teens, they may:

  • Have continuing fantasies of sexually touching a much younger child.
  • Sexually touch a much younger child.

Because a sexual interest in much younger children starts early, we must intervene early.

Act:

  1. View a child’s sexual interest in much younger children as a health problem.
  2. Be the capable adult who will help the child with this health problem.
  3. Take the child to a health professional, a sex-specific therapist.
    1. Seek early diagnosis
    2. Get effective treatment

A Checklist to Help Parents, Teachers and Counselors Spot an Adult's Possible Sexual Interest in Children

A Checklist to Help Parents, Teachers and Counselors
Spot an Adult’s Possible Sexual Interest in Children
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1. Individuals who develop a special one-on-one relationship with one child. 

2. Individuals who spend excessive time alone with children who aren’t their own.  

3. Individuals who take photographs of children who aren’t their own.  

4. Teachers, coaches, activity providers, etc., who develop an intense ongoing relationship with a child who is not on their schedule (or roster) or who is no longer on their schedule (or roster, etc.).

* Checklist reprinted with permission of Gene G. Abel, M.D. and Nora Harlow (authors of The Stop Child Molestation Book, What Ordinary People Can Do In Their Everyday Lives To Save Three Million Children. All profits from book sales donated to The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute.).

What Is A Ephebophile And How Is He or She Different From A Pedophile?

You have probably read since January 2002 about reports in the Roman Catholic Church of priests molesting children. When these cases have been examined in detail, the majority of accusations relate to adult priests molesting adolescent boys, 14 to 17 years of age. These abusers are called “ephebophiles” because they have a sexual interest in children who are post-puberty. Less common in the media reports of molestations in the Roman Catholic Church are reports of priests molesting children under 14 years of age. These abusers are called “pedophiles.”  

Recent research indicates that the ratio of male pedophiles who molest boys versus male ephebophiles who molest boys, is four to one. That means male pedophiles are four times more frequent than male ephebophiles.

But male ephebophiles who molest boys frequently become involved with other children. A study of over 600 male ephebophiles found that slightly over 50% also had a history of molesting boys under age 14. In addition, over 28% had molested girls under age 14, and 20% had molested girls 14 to 17 years of age.* From this information, it is clear that one shouldn’t assume that a male ephebophile who molests adolescent boys doesn’t also molest other categories of boys and girls.

* Statistics provided by Abel Screening Incorporated, Atlanta, GA, August 2002.