Three years have elapsed since the same authors’ landmark Remaking
Relapse Prevention: A Sourcebook critiqued and built upon this most fundamental,
yet under-researched element of treatment. Their newest volume (and sadly,
Dr. Hudson’s final book) will serve as a blueprint for understanding
sexual abusers for many years to come. In Remaking Relapse Prevention,
Ward and Hudson propose a self-regulation model that “can provide
a more comprehensive understanding of the factors associated with relapse
and consequently help clinicians to tailor treatment to individual offenders” (p.99).
This model describes the interaction of sexual abusers’ goals and
self-regulation styles and illustrates characteristics of those who do
and don’t wish to re-offend.
This new volume extends their model outward to develop both explanations
of, and responses to, sexual abuse. It will resonate with many and challenge
most of its readers by proposing fundamental changes in how we view offenders
and their treatment. Dr.'s Ward and Brown (p. 345) sum up the underlying
“How can an approach dedicated to preventing something harmful
occurring recruit individuals in the task of changing their lives? … Focusing
on criminogenic needs is arguably not helpful to clinicians (and offenders)
because it tells them only what to eliminate or modify. Negative goals
are extremely difficult to achieve as they do not specify what is sought,
but merely what is absent… For example, a treatment goal that
focuses on the acquisition of relationship skills is more useful than
simply aims to reduce intimacy deficits.”
They respond by highlighting recent understandings of sexual abuse
such as evolutionary aspects of rape and the public health perspective
preventing sexual abuse. Further, the authors place relapse prevention
in the context of a “good lives” model of offender rehabilitation.
This model stresses giving “offenders the necessary capabilities
to secure important personal and social goods in acceptable ways rather
than simply the reduction and management of risk” (p. 23). In their
view, “risk factors are simply obstacles to the achievement of
human goods and point to the need for individuals to possess the internal
and external conditions necessary to live more fulfilling lives” (p.24).
Beyond simply advocating a shift in perspective, the authors present
numerous applied aspects of their model. These include a method for
training community corrections officers using combined education around
sequence, motivational interviewing techniques, and understanding offender
personalities through dramatic personae developed by John Bergman.
A discussion on how individual case formulation can augment treatment
is also provided. Devon Polascheck contributes a thoughtful chapter
Classification of Sex Offenders”. Developmental antecedents as
well as Ward and Hudson’s models of pathways to both offense and
re-offense are discussed in useful detail. Richard Laws contributes a
chapter on “behavioral economic approaches” to assessment
and treatment. He also delivers a harsh critique of the current state
Ward, Laws, and Hudson make bold assertions challenging our preconceptions
of assessment and treatment. However, taking a page from their own
model, they develop these in a framework of promising approaches for
assessment and treatment outcome, giving practitioners new ideas rather
than simply providing what Dr. Laws refers to as “a list of Thou-Shalt-Nots”.
Although many readers will wish for more explicit applications to special
populations (females, developmentally delayed offenders, those in denial),
this book will inform the work of virtually all ATSA members. While
the authors have focused an ongoing critical eye to our work, this
volume will challenge many of us to turn the same focus towards ourselves.