Group therapy for males who sexually abuse can function as a therapeutic “neural exercise” to promote biobehavioral adjustments of several psychosocial processes associated with attachment styles, emotional regulation, stress reactivity, and social relationships. As social mammals, our nervous systems are designed to automatically evaluate risk and safety in any given situation or interpersonal encounter. This is not learned, nor are we aware of neural cues that trigger either our positive feelings of safety or negative feelings of danger and threat. When safety is detected, a bias toward social engagement behaviors is primed for activation. If there are no cues of safety, a bias toward defensive mobilization (fight/flight) or defensive immobilization (freezing or becoming numb) is primed for activation. This workshop will describe an array of practical neural-based techniques that group therapists can use in sex offense-specific groups to activate and maintain the innate bias toward social engagement while averting the activation of defensive responses.
ATSA has set standards and practice guidelines for treatment providers; produced a code of ethics; produced the highly ranked peer-reviewed journal Sexual Abuse, and holds the world’s largest annual conference and leading educational venue for professionals working in the field of sexual abuse prevention and treatment.