Beyond the “Ick Factor”: Counseling Non-offending Persons with Pedophilia

Abstract

Would you feel prepared if a client in your clinical practice shared that he was sexually attracted to children? Mental health professionals come in contact with these individuals primarily through the child welfare or criminal justice systems. But it is now increasingly evident that a population exists of non-offending minor-attracted persons (MAPs) who have never molested a child and have no intention of doing so. By becoming familiar with their unique treatment needs, clinicians can develop competence to provide effective, ethical, and compassionate services for this stigmatized and hard-to-reach population, with a dual focus on sexual abuse prevention and client well-being. This article will first describe what is known about pedophilia and minor-attraction. Next, the legal and ethical questions that therapists may ask in relation to this work will be explored. This paper will review obstacles to help-seeking identified by MAPs and discuss their treatment needs. Finally, recommendations will be offered for engaging MAPs in an emotionally safe and non-shaming therapeutic encounter. In this way, clinical social workers can contribute to advancing child sexual abuse prevention efforts.

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Levenson, J.S., Grady, M.D. & Morin, J.W. Beyond the “Ick Factor”: Counseling Non-offending Persons with Pedophilia. Clin Soc Work J 48, 380–388 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10615-019-00712-4

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Keywords

  • Pedophilia
  • Minor-attracted persons
  • MAP
  • Stigma
  • prevention
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Minor-attraction