For thirty-five years I have treated a population that has been ostracized by society. My patients/patients cross the spectrum of ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. Their crimes cover the entire continuum of sexual offenses. For the purposes of treatment groups, I do not differentiate or allow one client to believe they are better than another because their crime was a “lesser” offense. Each person has, through his or her behavior, left destruction in his or her wake; sometimes it seems irreparable. They have harmed their victims; caused families to deteriorate; betrayed the trust of children; and often-instilled fear in their communities. Many are addicted to substances; diagnosed with mental health disorders; and display general aggressiveness in addition to their sexual aggressiveness.
Many of my clients lack impulse control. They engage in thinking that rationalized and minimized their behavior. The majority blames the victims, creating a cloud of suspicion over an already traumatized person. Many hold the belief that they did nothing wrong. They have a need for power and control and use intimidation as means to achieving their ends. They usually present as emotionally detached and lack an understanding of how their abusive behavior impacted their victim(s) and others. In fact, they often perceive themselves as the victim. Those who can afford it hire private attorneys in order minimize their offense and consequences. While this is their constitutional right, it often means that the victim is called upon to testify in court, suffering further harm. At times, prosecuting attorneys agree to allow the defendant to plea to a lesser offense to avoid further traumatizing the victim.
I have personally found that the practice of Caring Science facilitates transpersonal and caring relationships with clients and is a prerequisite for change to occur even if cooperation from my clients may not always be genuine. It is not uncommon for clients to go through the mechanical motions of cooperation in order to appear compliant and willing to change. Therapists must always be vigilant about this. However, a mechanical application of evidence-based interventions without compassion and human caring also makes the therapist disingenuous. I believe change can occur faster, and at a deeper level if we integrate the practice of caring and compassion into our forensic work.
Why Work with Sexual Offenders?
Many do not understand how I can do this work. I hold the belief that all human beings have an ethical or moral responsibility to do their part in making this planet a better place. I consider my work with sexual offenders to be my contribution. I believe that my work is directly related to the healing of victims; and less directly, but no less importantly, to those who may never become victims because of the healing that have taken place in my office.
Integrating Caring Science
Caring, compassion, wisdom and love are the cornerstones of a theory of nursing called Caring Science (Watson, 2008). This theory of nursing has been empirically validated through research and is expanding its reach to other helping professions. The healing professions can now incorporate compassion, caring, and love as a scientifically validated healing modality into their helping repertoire.
Caring Science (CS) is grounded in the discipline of nursing science and practice. Dr. Jean Watson, Founder/Director of the Watson Caring Science Institute (WCSI), states that CS, “Includes other fields and disciplines in the Academy, for example, Women/Feminist studies, Education, Ecology, Peace Studies, Philosophy/ Ethics, Arts and Humanities, Mind-body-spirit Medicine. As such, caring science is rapidly becoming an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary field of study. It has relevance to all the health, education, and human service fields and professions.” CS investigates reflective, subjective interpretative observations as well as objective-empirical inquiry (Watson, 2013).
For more information about Caring Science visit watsoncaringscience.org For More information about sexual assault visit www.atsa.com