Relapse prevention with intellectually disabled sexual offenders

Jenny Wells, John Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


The adaptation of relapse prevention theory to sexual offending (W D. Pithers, J. K. Marques, C. C. Gibat, & G. A. Marlatt, 1983) has represented an important movement in cognitive-behavioural treatment for sexual offenders. However, this model of relapse prevention has been criticised for its limited view and oversimplification of the relapse prevention process (R. K. Hanson, 2000; T Ward & S. M. Hudson, 1996). As a result, T Ward and S. M. Hudson (2000a) have developed a multiple pathway model of the relapse prevention process based on self-regulation theory. Although this model continues to be empirically validated on sexual offenders (J. A. Bickley & A. R. Beech, 2002; T Ward, S. M. Hudson, & J. C. McCormick, 1999), there has been no empirical research regarding the application of this theory to intellectually disabled sexual offenders. This paper discusses whether the characteristics of offenders in each of the relapse offence pathways, as described by T Ward and S. M. Hudson (2000a), may be similar to the characteristics of intellectually disabled sexual offenders. From a review, of the literature, it appears that the intellectually disabled sexual offender may be most likely to offend via the approach-automatic pathway or the avoidant-passive pathway. The potential treatment implications of the self-regulation model for intellectually disabled sexual offenders is discussed, as well as the need for empirical evaluation with regards to the application of this model to the intellectually disabled sexual offender population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-423
Number of pages17
JournalSexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2005


  • relapse prevention
  • sexual offenders
  • intellectual disability


Dive into the research topics of 'Relapse prevention with intellectually disabled sexual offenders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this