A brief group treatment for the modification of denial in child sexual abusers: Outcome and follow-up

William O'Donohue, Elizabeth Letourneau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


We investigated whether brief structured group treatment could produce a reduction of denial of sexual offenses in males convicted of sexually offending against children. Such denial can additionally harm victims and often precludes admission into sex offender treatment programs, thus ruling out an opportunity to decrease the potential of reoffending. The group treatment contained elements of victim empathy, cognitive restructuring, sex education, assertiveness and social skills, education about sex offender therapy, and a discussion of the possible consequences of continued denial. Seventeen child sexual offenders in denial were run in two groups. Despite an average length of denial of nearly two years, by post-treatment the majority of offenders had come out of denial. Moreover, follow-up denial data indicated continued admission, and above-average compliance with subsequent sex offender therapy. Although the lack of an experimental design precludes causal inference, these results are suggestive of an effective method for modifying denial in sex offenders against children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-304
Number of pages6
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Denial
  • Pedophiles
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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