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Book Reviews   |    
How to Work With Sex Offenders: A Handbook for Criminal Justice, Human Services, and Mental Health Professionals
Reviewed by Laurie L. Guidry, Psy.D.
Psychiatric Services 2003; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.54.9.1299
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by Rudy Flora; New York, Haworth Clinical Practice Press, 2001, 274 pages, $22.95 softcover

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This book represents an effort to provide a concise and comprehensive informational resource for individuals who work with sex offenders within relevant legal and clinical contexts. The author, Rudy Flora, also seeks to explore and define the structure and function of the multiple systems through which sex offenders may move from the time of their arrest through the time they begin treatment.

Early chapters cover in very broad strokes the criminal justice, human services, and mental health systems and subsystems and their individual roles in the process of dealing with sex offenders and their victims. The author also identifies and outlines some of the techniques and standards used in each of these independent yet interrelated disciplines in their approach to investigating sexual crimes and interviewing, profiling, assessing, and treating sexual perpetrators. Later chapters are dedicated to an elementary identification of both clinical and criminal classifications of sex offenders, a brief overview of the multiple etiological theories that have been purported in the sex offender literature, and an outline and review of a variety of treatment approaches that have been established in the clinical treatment of sex offenders and of special subpopulations of sex offenders.

Criminal justice, human service, and mental health workers who are new to the task of working with sex offenders may find this text to be a useful primer to the sex offender field. In particular, the portion of the book that covers taxonomies, theories, and treatment of sex offenders provides the working basis for a fairly sound introductory curriculum for clinical work with sex offenders. However, the author set himself a difficult task in trying to provide a comprehensive resource for a relatively new, highly complex, and rapidly evolving field that involves the intersection of several multilayered systems that is still in the early stages of its development. As a result, complicated yet essential topics—such as social policy issues, ethical dilemmas, and the most current research and practice data—may have received short shrift or been unable to be included. In addition, it seems a significant and short-sighted omission that a book designed as a reference source for professionals failed to include any references to the international, national, and more local professional organizations that exist to provide information, education, conferences, support, practice standards and guidelines, forums for discussion and exchange, and access to the most-up-to-date information and research data available to individuals who work with sex offenders. However, although professionals in criminal justice, human services, and mental health who have experience working with sex offenders may find this book too elemental and thin on extant information, novices in the field can use this handbook to get their early bearings in a profession rife with challenge and complexity.

Dr. Guidry is director of the mentally ill/problematic sexual behavior program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester.




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