skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 204244 Find in a Library
Title: Approach Versus Avoidance Goals in Relapse Prevention With Sexual Offenders
Journal: Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment  Volume:16  Issue:1  Dated:January 2004  Pages:65-75
Author(s): Ruth E. Mann; Stephen D. Webster; Caroline Schofield; William L. Marshall
Date Published: January 2004
Page Count: 11
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: This article reports on an evaluation of two orientations to relapse prevention for sex offenders, one with a deliberately positive orientation that focuses on creating a "good life" and one with the more traditional approach that emphasizes avoiding and controlling risk factors.
Abstract: A total of 47 sex offenders incarcerated in the same prison and waiting to participate in a cognitive-behavioral treatment program were randomly assigned to either a positive-oriented track (n=24) or an avoidance-oriented track (n=23). The two groups were matched on offender type, age, risk, and sentence length; and all had the same therapists. The majority of the offenders were serving long sentences for serious sex crimes that involved violence or murder. All participants completed a treatment program that lasted approximately 8 months and included approximately 200 hours of group treatment. The two programs differed only in the features of the relapse prevention (RP) components, which constituted about 25 percent of the total intervention. The positive-oriented RP intervention involved identifying the difference between positive-approach and avoidance goals; artwork and written work to describe each client's view of his "Old Me" (at the time of the offending) and "New Me;" the identification of subgoals to be achieved on the way to the New Me; the identification of factors that might prevent the client from achieving his approach goals; and additional skills development to assist clients in achieving subgoals and primary goals. The avoidance-oriented RP component followed the principles of traditional RP in identifying high-risk thoughts, feelings, situations, and behaviors; listing cues for each risk factor; and generating a plan for managing each risk factor. A relapse-prevention interview measured knowledge of risk factors and the quality of planned strategies for dealing with them. Other elements of the evaluation included completion of risk diaries during the last 2 weeks of treatment, therapist ratings, and a self-esteem questionnaire. Evaluation findings indicate that participants who completed the positive-oriented RP intervention had a greater engagement in treatment as measured by homework compliance and willingness to disclose lapses. Also, therapists rated them to be more genuinely motivated to live life without offending by the end of treatment; however, differences between the two groups in terms of self-esteem change following treatment were not very significant. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for treatment delivery. 2 tables, 19 references, and an appended example of a "New Me" diary
Main Term(s): Corrections effectiveness
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Sex offender treatment; Sex offenders; Treatment effectiveness; Treatment techniques
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.