Adult Outpatient Programs
Outpatient sex offender groups are available for those individuals who do not need treatment in a secured setting nor the level of structure or intensity provided by Alpha's residential treatment program. The overall goal of this program is to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of inappropriate or deviant sexual behavior.
A felony conviction is not a requirement for admission to the outpatient program. Those who are court-referred can be on probation, work release, supervised release or in other community programming or residential treatment programs. Additional referral sources include social service agencies, health care management organizations, attorneys, employers, families and clients themselves.
Outpatient groups are also available for those who have been released from a Minnesota Correctional Facility and are either on intensive or regular supervised release. The following groups are available only when there are enough offender referrals to constitute the specialty group. If there are an insufficient number of offenders for a specialty group, those individuals will be seen in the traditional sex offender groups.
Outpatient sexual behavior groups at Alpha are intensive and focus on behavioral goals as well as emotional and psychological development. Specifically, clients are required to take full responsibility for past negative behaviors and to resolve any underlying contributing emotional issues. Clients are confronted with and expected to change maladaptive cognitive defense systems, such as denial and/or rationalization, which tend to support the negative behaviors. Clients learn to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate sexual fantasies and learn techniques to prevent the highly reinforcing practice of masturbating to deviant sexual fantasies. Each client is expected to develop genuine empathy for his or her victim(s) which is achieved through a variety of therapeutic techniques, such as role-playing and/or writing a letter of apology to the victim. Completing a reoffense prevention plan is required during treatment. Monthly individual and occassional couples or family sessions are offered to each group member as an adjunct to group therapy. When indicated, individual psychotherapy without group participation is also offered.
Clients are required to participate in at least two polygraph examinations while in treatment. The first polygraph examination verifies full client disclosures regarding the referral offense as well as any other incidents of sexual abuse and deviant sexual history. The second polygraph examination is administered prior to completion of treatment and verifies client compliance with both probation and treatment rules and expectations.
Clients are assessed to determine their appropriateness for outpatient community treatment. Community safety is always considered when accepting someone for outpatient programming. Potential clients are of at least average range in intellectual ability and should have no mental illness that would impede their ability to benefit from cognitive/behavioral therapy. Typically, clients who do not have an extensive history of sexually deviant behavior and who are not chemically dependent, or have already received chemical dependency treatment, are appropriate for an outpatient group.
Outpatient groups either meet once a week for two hours or meet for three hours weekly for three weeks each month.
Payments for outpatient services can be made by the client, by his or her medical insurance, available state grants, or by the referring agency. It is possible for a referring agency to pay part of the cost while the individual pays the remainder.
Specialized Group for Statutory Rape Offenders
An alternative 12-month therapy program is offered for young adults convicted of consensual sexual contact with adolescents under the legal age of consent. This group is appropriate for clients who have no prior histories of criminal sexual behavior or paraphiliac sexual activities, and who did not use physical aggression to gain compliance. The treatment format combines educational and therapeutic strategies to address the needs of this population. Participants are evaluated for any further therapeutic needs and are presented with appropriate treatment recommendations and referrals at the end of the 12 months.
Participants are required to submit to a polygraph examination in order to verify that there was no overt coercion during the sexual offense, that there is no pattern of soliciting adolescent partners, nor any history of paraphiliac involvement.
Department of Corrections Sex Offender Post-Release Programming and Treatment Groups
The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) has authorized funding for Alpha to provide outpatient post-release sex offender programming for individuals on supervised release from Minnesota correctional facilities.
The Supervision/Support group addresses issues regarding reintegration into the community, such as, employement, housing, access to community resources, family reunification, and adjustment to intensive supervised release. Alpha’s groups for these individuals are facilitated by a licensed psychologist. Clients attend post-release programming weekly for approximately four months.
Supervised Releasee Treatment Group
Sex offender treatment groups are also available for all levels of DOC supervised releasees. Potential treatment clients are screened from those individuals attending the Supervision/Support groups and those coming out of prison who are already stable with employement and housing outside of a halfway house. To be accepted for treatment, the supervised releasees must admit to their crimes and demonstrate a level of motivation to participate in treatment. Funding for treatment will be provided through insurance plans, or by the DOC for a period of up to 18 months for each active treatment client.
Taking responsibility for perpetrating sexually abusive behavior is an important part of sex offender treatment. Most programs will not provide services to offenders who deny or severely minimize having any problems with their sexual behavior. In addition, few sex offender programs have services for clients who do not need in-depth sex offender treatment, but who do need more information and education about sexuality, appropriate boundaries, and responsible sexual behavior. Alpha’s Psychoeducational Course is designed to address these gaps in traditional sex offender services.
The Psychoeducational Course addresses the issues of inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual harassment. It introduces topics that are addressed in traditional sex offender treatment by means of an educational format. This approach provides an alternative method for addressing allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct when there is an insufficient level of responsibility accepted by the client for placement in a traditional sex offender therapy group or when placement in such a group is not warranted. Participants are not required to disclose to fellow classmates the nature or reason for their referral to the course. Discussions are, instead, focused on the topics presented by the facilitators. Class members are then required to demonstrate proficiency in the course material through written tests corresponding to the presented topics.
The goals of this course are to provide an opportunity for participants to explore the nature of defense mechanisms, to support the decision to become more candid regarding their behavior, and to encourage the exploration of issues surrounding their problematic sexual behaviors. Additionally, the objectives are to provide participants with information about sexual functioning, to alter attitudes, to reduce shame, and to improve the problem-solving and stress management abilities of those in the course. Often, participation in the course results in a class member developing increased motivation for entering into a traditional sex offender therapy group. For others, it provides useful information to guide future behavioral choices.
While this course is not a substitute for sex offender treatment, it can be an appropriate adjunctive service. It should be noted that completion of the Psychoeducational Program is not the equivalent of completing a sex offender therapy program.
The following topics are covered:
- Reproductive Anatomy
- Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Birth Control
- Sexuality Throughout the Lifespan
- Sexual Fantasy and Pornography
- Healthy and Unhealthy Sexuality
- Touch and Boundary Issues
- Shame and Guilt
- Stress Management
- Chemical Abuse
- Defense Mechanisms
- Denial and Offending
- Sexually Abusive Behaviors
- Types of Sex Offenders
- Victim Impact
- Reoffense Prevention
The psychoeducational course uses lectures, guest presentations, movies, group discussions, in-group assignments, homework assignments, and post-tests of each content area covered. The post-tests are administered after each topic and must be passed at the 80% level. If participants do not reach this level, they must do remedial work until they are able to answer at least 80% of the questions correctly, ensuring that the material is mastered at a significant level.
Customized Psychoeducational Course
The curriculum can be modified to meet the specific needs of a particular referred client. All of the topics noted above are available for a customized psychoeducational course. However, the referring agency, in collaboration with the course facilitators, can determine which topics are relevant to that client.
Training is available for persons who are interested in becoming approved chaperones for family members or friends who are not allowed unsupervised contact with minors. The chaperone is an individual identified as providing supervision for a sexual offender when he/she is in the presence of a minor child. The training program provides general information about sexual offenders and the dynamics of sexual offending, as well as specific information about the individual who is to be chaperoned. The participants learn about the rules and laws regarding appropriate/healthy and criminal sexual conduct. They gain an understanding of cognitive distortions, offender techniques for grooming victims, the concepts of "red flags," at-risk situations, reoffense prevention plans and probation agreements. Those who successfully complete the chaperone program will understand how to effectively monitor the offender's compliance with all conditions of probation regarding supervised contact with minors.
Supervised visitation between offenders and their children is available at Alpha and is provided by skilled, trained mental health professionals experienced in the dynamics of abuse. These supervisors are able to provide feedback and immediate intervention with respect to inappropriate interactions, both blatant and subtle, rather than simply offering a physical presence during the visitation sessions. Thorough written reports examining the interactional dynamics of the visitation participants and recommendations for therapeutic intervention and focus are also provided. Visitation sessions can be videotaped when requested or deemed necessary.
Cases involving alleged or adjudicated sexual abuse perpetration, physical abuse, neglect, or emotional abuse are all appropriate referrals. Visits usually last for approximately one hour. Once visits are established and are proceeding well according to the supervisor’s assessment, visits may be held outside the office setting, with court or social service approval, at the supervisor’s discretion. Multi-hour visits of two hours or more can also be arranged.
Victims/Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Individual therapy sessions are available by appointment to explore the impact that sexual abuse has had on the lives of those who have been victimized. All types of sexual abuse will be addressed including past and present abuse stemming from both within and outside the home, acquaintance and stranger sexual assault, as well as non-contact abuse. Services are available for males and females of school age through adulthood. Play therapy is available for younger children. Whenever there are a sufficient number of program participants, group therapy is provided.
Spouses, victims, and family members can receive services at Alpha even if the offender is not participating in any of Alpha’s treatment programs.