Guest editorial

Published date07 August 2017
Date07 August 2017
AuthorStephanie Kewley,Ross M. Bartels,Anthony R. Beech
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology,Sociology,Sociology of crime & law,Deviant behaviour,Public policy & environmental management,Policing,Criminal justice
Stephanie Kewley, Ross M. Bartels and Anthony R. Beech
This special issue of the Journal of Crimi nal Psychology aims to share with its readers the latest
research and thinking in relation to strengths-based approaches when working with people
convicted of sexual offending. It is our privilege to present a selection of novel and
thought-provok ing papers from sign ificant scholars who se work is dedicate d to preventing
sexual abuse and working with those convicted of sexual offending in an ethical, humane, and
positive way. Strengths-based approaches involve identifying and developing the positive
aspects of an individual (Barton and Mackin, 2012). As noted by Kewley (Kewley and
Blandford, 2017), they have been utilised in many contexts, such as education,
health/well-being, and organisational behaviour. In recent years, there has been a move to
incorporate and employ strengths-based approaches in forensic contexts, especially
rehabilitation. Indeed, Barton and Mackin (2012) note that strengths-based approaches can
help foster a treatm ent process that is mor e collaborative an d involving of the clie nt.
In this special issue, strength-based approaches are explored in relation to the assessment,
treatment, and management of those convicted of sexual offending. It includes research from a
range of forensic contexts, including the police, prison, and the community. In the first paper,
Kewley and Blandford detail the development of a new strengths- and risk-based assessment
tool, used by police practitioners to determine the degree and nature of actions required to help
support the safe reintegration of sexual offenders into the community. A number of practitioner
strengths, as well as empirical limitations of the tool, are discussed. In the second paper,
also relating to risk assessment, Kewley reports on the experiences of practitioners using
strengths- and risk-based tools in practice. She highlights a number of benefits police
practitionersreport but also the challenges they face in terms of the political, economic, and
social context in which they operate. The third paper by Merdian et al. details a qualitative study
examining the desistance strategies used by a sample of 26 online child sexual exploitation
materialusers. The authors link the findings to the Good Lives Model, demonstrating how the
findings can be used to develop a strengths-based approach for working clinically with this
population. The fourth paper by DOrazio concentrates on the treatment regime within a
custodial context. Here, she evaluates the degree to which the therapeutic climate, group
environment, and therapist style are responsive to the needs of clients. She notes that the climate
of risk and danger in which such therapy takes place can be problematic for clients and staff
members. Our fifth paper by Youssef details the importance of engaging in a therapeutic alliance
when working with those convicted of sexual offending. Here she explores the literature that
details the value of therapeutic alliance for treatment outcomes but also highlights the obstacles
and challenges therapists face when working with this client group. Finally, Marshall, Marshall,
and Olver provide an evaluation of treatment approaches to working with those convicted of
sexual offending. Their article draws on the Good Lives Model, however, they remind us of the
limited empirical evidence to support such approaches, and when considering outcomes such
as the reduction of recidivism, a clear, and agreed upon set of criteria for strengths-based
approaches is needed.
Strengths-based approaches to working with this client group are still in their infancy, and as
noted in this selection of papers, academics, policy makers, and practitioners are having to face
a range of challenges. One significant area that requires immediate exploration is the empirical
testing of such approaches. Far more research is needed to test: if strengths-based interventions
address treatment targets and if strengths-based interventions can prevent/reduce recidivism.
There is much work to be done here and we hope that this special edition plays a role in profiling
the issues and inspiring future strengths-based research.
Stephanie Kewley is a Senior
Lecturer in Criminology at the
Department of Criminology,
Birmingham City University,
Birmingham, UK.
Ross M. Bartels is a Senior
Lecturer in Forensic
Psychology at the University of
Lincoln, Lincoln, UK.
Anthony R. Beech is a
Professor in Criminological
Psychology at the School of
Psychology, University of
Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.
DOI 10.1108/JCP-06-2017-0026 VOL. 7 NO. 3 2017, pp. 153-154, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829
PAG E 15 3
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