Offense Specific Family Therapy

SORS provides family treatment in all cases where it is appropriate. Families are encouraged to forge a strong alliance with program staff to ensure the greatest likelihood of compliance from the client. SORS believes each family must become prepared for meaningful – and at times radical – changes in the lives of the offender. This may call for extended absences from the home and changes in the primary family routines to ensure the safety of others. As the family begins to establish and require a “point of order” with the offender, it will begin to establish an empowered capacity to hold the offender accountable for his abusiveness, secretiveness and manipulations. Family involvement can be and frequently is one of the pivotal issues in positive participation of the offender. If the family elects to remain in the life of the sex offender, they must be taught to hold him or her accountable. Any sort of collusion and support of negative, minimized or unmotivated attitudes is of serious concern and is addressed. Families meet with therapists in both individual and multi-family sessions. Each offender is expected to have “approved supervisors” from their family and/or friends complete the chaperone program. This ensures that each offender has a support system that demonstrates the competencies to provide effective supervision for the offender.

Family Treatment Objectives

SORS believes that accurate and carefully structured family involvement is critical to the long-term effectiveness and maintenance of change. Involving the family as an important part of the treatment team can improve compliance and safety. Substantial efforts are taken to offer the family information about sexual abuse and the specifics of the abuse committed by the offender. Families are taught to identify the stages of the sexual assault cycle and become familiar with the offender’s relapse prevention plan. Clients that are to remain successful at avoiding re-offending, have family systems that learn to confront secrets, avoid minimizations and recognize thinking errors and hold the offender accountable. These families must establish a permanent capacity to avoid denial and remain vigilant of the offender’s capacity to re-offend.

Family and friends are also offered time-limited psycho educational information forums and given support to explore the unique challenges of remaining involved with the sex offender.

Goals for Offense Specific Family Treatment:

  • Prevent any additional abusive behaviors.
  • Provide education about the SORS program and sexual abuse issues.
  • Empower family members, individually or as a whole, to require accountability from the offender.
  • Explore family dynamics that may contribute to the sexually abusive behavior.
  • Reduce passivity and encourage improved family functioning in necessary ways (i.e., financial independence, increased assertiveness, honesty and balance of power).
  • Assist family to internalize the idea that having the offender home is not a measure of progress, but rather a measure of increased risk.
  • Review safety plans and visitation guidelines. Support the family to make realistic transition plans