Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

State of the Art Treatment Options for Actual and Potential Sexual Offenders and New Prevention Strategies


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: July 2019 - Volume 25 - Issue 4 - p 242–257
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000395

Sexual violence is a significant and devastating issue for men and women throughout the world. Its consequences are not only disastrous for victims of sexual violence but are also extremely costly (estimated cost of $41,000 per rape) for society. Successful treatment of sexual offenders is therefore an important goal for society as well as for victims and offenders themselves. Over the years, multiple treatment approaches for sex offenders have been developed. Treatment programs range from the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model, which focuses on providing tailored treatment for high-risk and low-risk offenders, to psychodynamic models. This article presents an overview for clinicians of state-of-the-art offender treatment, describing the most common treatment approaches, in particular the RNR model, cognitive-behavioral programs (relapse prevention programs, sexual offender treatment programs), psychodynamic approaches (transference-focused psychotherapy, mentalization-based therapy), the Good Lives Model, as well as pharmacological options. In addition, it provides an evaluation of the various treatment programs. However, given the fact that most acts of sexual violence will never be reported to the police, the question arises if treating convicted perpetrators is enough. Do we need rather—in terms of preventive work—a program for potential sexual offenders and men with delinquent sexual fantasies? Given the prevalence of sexual violence and its impact on victims, society, and the medical community, it would be remiss not to try to reach potential/unconvicted perpetrators. This article offers novel ideas and a project the goal of which is to prevent sexual offenses against women by introducing the “I CAN CHANGE” program from Hannover Medical School.

GIBBELS, KNEER, HARTMANN, KRUEGER: Department of Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Charlotte Gibbels, MS (Psychology), Department of Psychiatry, Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, Hannover 30625, Germany (e-mail:

Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.