Relapse Prevention: A Cognitive-Behavioral Model for Treatment of the Rapist and Child Molester

Craig Nelson, Michael Miner, Janice Marques, Kabe Russell, John Achterkirchen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The treatment of sexual aggressives (i.e., rapists and child molesters) is aimed not at “curing” the offender but at helping the individual to control his behavior. The concept of control involves the active participation of the offender in a behavior change process and reinforces the fact that continued abstinence from offending requires the offender’s continued attention. This paper describes Relapse Prevention (RP), a cognitive-behavioral model for helping the sex offender to gain control over his behavior, thus preventing the occurrence of a reoffense. RP attempts to help the offender maintain abstinence by identifying the decisions that place him at risk for offending (apparently irrelevant decisions, or AIDs), the situations that threaten his sense of self-control over his sexual behavior (high-risk situations), and the cognitive and affective pre-cipitants in his offense pattern. Through multimodal techniques, this perspective proposes to assist offenders in enhancing control of their behavior by improving strategies to cope with their offense pattern. Specific RP assessment and treatment procedures are presented with an accompanying case illustration of their application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-143
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Work and Human Sexuality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 13 1989


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