Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Michael J. Vogel, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Jane Ward, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Rodger K. Bufford, Ph.D.


Sexual offending is a serious, harmful, and costly behavior that impacts the safety of a community (Barros et al., 2020; Peterson et al., 2017; Severson & Pettus-Davis, 2013). To improve community safety and reduce further harm, several specialized treatments have been developed to rehabilitate individuals convicted of a sexual offense (ICSO). Recent meta-analytic studies have suggested that specialized cognitive-behavioral treatments for ICSO do in fact lead to a reduction in sexual recidivism (Gannon et al., 2019; Harrison et al., 2020; Kim et al., 2016). To increase engagement with and completion of treatment programs, and subsequently to reduce the risk of re-offense for ICSO, the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model provides guidelines for adjusting treatment given knowledge of client characteristics that may affect engagement (Bonta & Andrews, 2017). The present study examined responsivity factors in the domains of demographics, guardedness, personality, and criminality and found that ICSO who complete treatment differ than those who do not in each of these areas. A prediction model found that demographic characteristics, personality, and criminality were predictors of whether an individual completed treatment or did not complete treatment. Guardedness did not contribute to predictions after accounting for the other domains. Our findings extend those identified in the literature, highlight the importance of responsivity factors in predicting treatment completion, and raise two important implications for clinicians seeking to attend to responsivity considerations. First, prior research suggests that some clients may not be amenable to treatment. In fact, partially treating ICSO could actually increase their risk for re-offense (Carl & Lösel, 2021; Olver et al., 2011). Second, clinicians adhering to the RNR model should seek to adjust treatment programs as needed to account for certain client factors. Overall, the present study revealed that the consideration of responsivity factors is an invaluable component of robust sexual offense treatment.

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