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Abstract: The assessment of clinically meaningful treatment change among sexual offenders, and the relationship between change and risk

The past two decades have seen great gains in the field of sex offender risk assessment. However, comparatively little attention has been given to the assessment of treatment change (i.e., the extent to which a sex offender has successfully addressed their specific needs through the process of treatment). This talk will explore the different ways that treatment change has previously been conceptualised and assessed in the literature, and some common pitfalls for clinicians. Questions will be raised regarding the relationship between treatment change and risk, drawing on clinical examples to illustrate concepts. Finally, exciting recent developments will be reported on involving structured and validated ways to measure change across treatment, and the integration of change assessments with risk.



Dr Sarah Beggs Christofferson holds a Ph.D in Psychology from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Her research has focused on the valid assessment of change achieved by sex offenders engaged in treatment, the relationship between treatment change and risk of reoffending, and the influence of specific personality and other offender characteristics on this relationship. She has contributed numerous published papers and conference presentations in these areas. Sarah is also a registered clinical psychologist, and is experienced in group treatment of sexual offenders. She has been employed by the New Zealand Department of Corrections since 2007 in both clinical and national office advisory roles, and is currently Senior Advisor Psychology in the Office of the Chief Psychologist.