In treatment, having empathy for the client is a key to gaining trust. Obviously, without trust, treatment won’t get very far. Empathy allows the client to understand, to tangibly FEEL, that the counselor is in their corner, the provider believes in them and is in total support of their recovery or growth.

Honesty is needed in like measure. Without honesty, there will be no “aha” moments, no discovery. Empathy without honesty can allow the client to stay stuck in their victim story (“it’s somebody else’s fault that I’m here.”)

Devotion to Service and Ego Satisfaction

Serving others begins to erode the wall we construct around ourselves, especially for those who have come to believe “I’m the victim here!” Contributing to the well-being of fellow humans , animals and the larger world is satisfying because we all want to belong and to be seen for our caring. But, in addition, being in service will often take us out of a place of self pity (and maybe self loathing) into a healthier place of interrelationship.

Trusting the Connection

Fitting in requires some skills and a lot of discipline. Putting up with people’s idiosyncrasies, and deciding not to weigh in with countering opinions, is a practice that has yielded us rewards beyond our imagination. Among the foremost is connection.

When We Believe We're Different

Confronting our own “shadow” does ask us to look at our own tendency to classify things, and people, as “different”.

Finding success at that, can we also see ourselves as a work in progress, as opposed to hopelessly lost or, conversely, irrefutably without flaw?

ATSA Issues Positive Book Review

An excerpt from ATSA former president, and book reviewer, David Prescott, LICSW

I’ve long appreciated this kind of project and have recently been involved (outside of our field) in publishing the work of a practitioner in Norway. It is a helpful opportunity to see how an experienced professional comes to view and reflect upon their life’s work. Callahan’s attitude and approach will appeal to many.

So, this time of year can also symbolize a rebirth of intention for bettering our behavior and reducing our biases or moral judgments about others, including former criminals. Many associate a New Year’s wish with this kind of new growth, and may even resort to asking for support from others.

What Ever Happened to Sex Education?

Nationally, there are nearly 1,000,000 registered sex offenders, with others returning from prison every day. Besides helping them find their way back to productivity (and aiding public safety in the process), we also have a responsibility to address the ongoing crisis of sex abuse. Our educational seminars will address that aspect too; not just how to deal with those already convicted, but also how to prevent new crimes from being committed.

What's The Statute of Limitations on Sex Crimes?

Although his most recent crime was not a sexual offense, he was nonetheless mandated to take the Static-99 assessment before being released from prison last month. I’m taking his word for this: he scored well on the test and was deemed “low risk”. But by the time he reached his home county, somehow the low risk score ended up being high risk, with strict mandates. How? Read more.

Where Does Anger Lead?

Each of us must deal with this deep emotional stain of "not belonging, " not being "good enough." And though you try mightily, getting to self acceptance through others' praise of you won't do. Eventually, each must confront weaknesses and shortcomings for our lapses.

Heartbreak and Hope

I heard that story and dozens more at the `10th annual NARSOL (Nat'l Assoc. of Rational Sex Offense Laws) conference last week. Aptly themed "The Road to Independence", the conference was held outside Cleveland, in Independence, Ohio. The title also pertains to the difficult road those on the sex offender registry face. 

The 10th Annual NARSOL Conference is This Week

This group has been effective at engaging dialogue in state legislatures to affect laws that weigh heaviest on those convicted of sexual offenses, people they refer to most often as "registrants." The national registry is one area in which they've gained a lot of ground, because the one-size-fits-all label of SO is unduly harsh on those whose misdeeds do not warrant a lifetime of continued punishment and recrimination.

“There isn’t one standard method for treating sex offenders. But many experts have come to agree that identifying motivations and thought patterns is essential. Recent research published by the American Public Health Association suggests that focusing on punishments rather than positive goals can actually increase the chance of recidivism.”

Social workers provide the lion’s share of sex offender treatment in this country. Many have a bias against sex offenders; some think anyone with that label will never be successful in treatment.

Thankfully, most providers see sex offenders as being able to rehabilitate themselves. Without that window hope, without a deep trust between the treatment provider and the client, the chances of successful treatment are slim.