Monday, April 25, 2016

Therapeutic Information, Guidelines, And Resources For Pedophiles/MAPs

Immediate Help

Hotline information and links are included at the bottom of this post, and on the right-hand side of this blog. This is a long post with a lot of information to digest and process. If you do not have the time to process the information or read it through several times, please utilize a more immediate resource for your needs.

Introduction

This is a post directed exclusively at MAPs/pedophiles (MAP is Minor Attracted People, sort of a catch-all for attractions people younger than one's self). If you are a parent, I have a blog post that would be helpful for you. I owe some of these answers to a group that is no longer publicly visible. They did a video where they answered some of my questions, and the inspiration for this post came from their answers.

So, with much thanks to their answers and their input, and from what I already know about the ideas around mandatory reporting and therapy that are in the pedophile/MAP community, I would like to formulate a resource specifically for people who are thinking about finding a therapist or someone to talk to about their attractions.

Before I get into this, I want to say a few things up front about views I have and assumptions I make throughout the remainder of this post:

  • Being a pedophile does not automatically make you a risk to children, in my view, or in the view of a therapist who is an expert at treating these issues. Risk is determined by a host of factors. 
  • A decision about whether or not you need therapy, or how you view your attractions, is entirely yours. I cannot dictate what you should or should not do, nor should anyone else attempt to tell you that. 
  • Research and researchers indicate that most pedophiles do not sexually abuse children, and most people who sexually abuse children are not pedophiles.
  • A pedophile is someone who is attracted to prepubescent children and is diagnosed with pedophilia, not someone who has molested a child. A hebephile is someone who is attracted to pubescent children, not a pedophile. 
  • Your attractions rise to the level of a disorder if they cause you distress and interfere with daily life. There is room in the current manual for diagnosing mental health issues for those with a paraphilia-style attraction, such as an attraction to minors, but do not cause distress and therefore are not worthy of a disorder status. In other words, just because you have an attraction to minors does not automatically mean you have a mental illness. Please see my recent post on mental illness and stigma for more details on mental illness.
  • Mandatory reporting is often misunderstood, both by therapists and by the average person and I will explain what mandatory reporting is, legally, and how that affects you seeking out a therapist. Some countries have mandatory reporting, and some do not. The United States and Canada do have mandatory reporting while Germany does not have mandatory reporting, and beyond those countries you will have to find that out for yourself. 
  • I am not an expert or a mental health professional. I am a primary prevention advocate (see disclosures/disclaimers). I am writing about my experiences on this subject based on my knowledge.
  • I am not being paid to write this, nor do I get any financial benefit from this blog in any capacity. Any ads that appear on this blog are not designed or set up by me. There should not be any ads on this blog (please comment if you see one). 
  • Some of this is mental health 101, so if you are familiar with mental health issues already, some of this information may be redundant.

If you want to look at therapy, or feel like therapy would be helpful, I would encourage you to try to find a therapist in your area. If you are skeptical that it could be helpful, but you are disturbed or distressed by your attractions to minors, then I would encourage you to hear me out. Your choice is yours. I will never, ever say that someone has to get therapy, unless I know them personally and they are setting off red flags and I think they are at risk for maladaptive behavior directed at themselves or others. I cannot make any blanket statements here, and there are some people who do not need a therapist to help them with their attractions. Your decision to seek treatment or not seek treatment is completely yours. No one should force you into that decision, unless they are attempting to do so because they are concerned about you (genuine compassion and desiring to help you, not "you might hurt a kid, you sicko, you need a nut doctor!").

For Adolescents

This blog is primarily intended for adults. However, if you are a teenager, you are welcome to use the resources here. Please know that in most countries, you need your parent's permission and support to access therapy resources if you are below the age of majority in your country. There is some information contained here that may be useful to you, but I encourage you to go to the bottom of this page and use the links at the bottom. I cannot be of any more assistance to you other than directing you to those resources, and what you read in my posts.

My Therapy

I have been through sex offender treatment, and I have a therapist who is affiliated with the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. They are an international organization dedicated to keeping society safe from sexual abuse, but they do so in a research/fact-based manner. They are a safe organization to trust. I cannot speak for them, but from my own experience they take a very positive and individual-based approach to therapy. What works for me in therapy is specific to me, not generalized to all offenders, all pedophiles, or all MAPs.

Therapists differ in how they approach these issues. Seeking out a therapist that does not have experience with sexual issues will likely not be helpful with ways of dealing with your sexual attractions. I recommend using the "Where do I get help?" section on the right-hand side of this blog for more information, which contains referral information and links to learn more about what sex-specific therapy looks like.

What I can tell you about my experience in therapy is that it was entirely focused on me and my issues. The first part of my therapy program was identifying who I was, what I thought, how I felt, and what I believed. The second part was about identifying significant events in my life. The final part of my program was about formulating a plan to ensure that I am taking care of myself and my needs. There were hints that if I did not manage my needs or my issues that I or others could come to harm, but no more than is realistic for any mental health issue. There was no emphasis on me being a risk or a ticking time bomb just because I am attracted to children.

What To Expect

A therapist that specializes in these areas will not change who you are. You will still be you, and a therapist is not attempting to change your personality. What they do wish to change are your habits and beliefs that may interfere with you being at peace with yourself and having good mental health. They will ask you challenging questions, they will annoy you, and they will say some things that you will disagree with. They do this for your sake, not to be mean or cruel. They want you to think, and they want you to make good choices.

Here is an example: Prior to treatment, I was terrible at asking people for any kind of help or for things that I needed. I was extremely stubborn. In some ways, I still am. But going through therapy helped me see that not asking for what I needed or asking for help was not a good habit. I began to see that other people can have insights and responses that not only helped me with whatever I needed, but also showed me that they care about me.

An experienced therapist will not reinforce negative stigmas about pedophilia and pedophiles. They may tell you things you would not like to hear: If you are in the habit of looking at drawn pornography involving children, they may question if that is a good habit for you. They may challenge how you think about things. But they will not do this to change who you are, but to encourage you to think about what is best for you. Their goals for you will be based entirely on your needs, your circumstances, your risks, and your personality. An experienced therapist will not see you as a risk to children because you are attracted to children, they will see you as a risk if your thinking and behaviors make you a risk to children (there is a difference).

Understanding Mandatory Reporting and Ethics

Mandatory reporting can vary by area. In the United States, most therapists, school staff, counselors, social workers, and others who work with children are mandatory reporters. Camp counselors can even be included in that list. Mandatory reporting essentially means that if one of these people knows about a specific child being harmed, or knows of imminent danger to a specific child, or children in a specific area, they must report it to law enforcement. Law enforcement will then evaluate the information they have, and investigate it. An investigation can be non-intrusive, but most are not. The people in the community will likely know about the investigation and the person being investigated.

It is not typically enough for a mandated reporter to have a vague statement from a client (Jimmy Jones is thinking about possibly hurting some kid somewhere), they usually must have some sort of specific targeted place or person (Jimmy Jones is thinking about punching Billy Bob in the face, or Jimmy Jones is thinking about raping a woman at S University). If someone is being treated by a therapist, and the therapist knows of a threat or danger of harm to someone and they do NOT report it, they can lose their license and, depending on the circumstances, be charged with a criminal offense. So there is a tendency to report if the therapist has the idea that someone is at risk for coming to harm from their client.

That situation also applies to self-harm: If a therapist believes that their client is at imminent risk of attempting suicide, they will contact law enforcement, who will then do a wellness check on the person. The client may be mandated to a hospital's psychiatric hold area, and from there sent to a mental ward for further evaluation. It is unlikely that most therapists will report someone just for having an attraction to children, there are usually other factors involved when such a report is filed with law enforcement.

My point is that a therapist has broad discretion over when to report a situation to police when mandatory reporting laws are on the books in a given country. In a therapy/counseling situation, you should always ask any questions about mandatory reporting, and make sure you understand how they deal with mandatory reporting. Mandatory reporting and court order are the only two instances in which confidentiality can be breached by a therapist or counselor in most cases.

By the ethical guidelines within their fields and organizations, therapists will typically uphold confidentiality and take it seriously. This also applies to social situations: Most therapists, if they see you outside of their office, will not acknowledge you unless you approach them. Ethics guidelines prevent therapists from establishing what is called multiple relationships, or creating a friendship with someone in addition to a therapeutic relationship.

Medications

Some therapists may refer you to a psychiatrist (someone who can prescribe medications) for evaluating what medications, if any, may be of benefit to you. You can state what your preference is for medication upfront. When I began my treatment program, I made it clear that I prefer not to use medication unless it is absolutely necessary. My reasons basically involved not wanting to compromise my ability to think, not wanting to use a crutch, and not wanting to be beholden to a drug to stay sane. There are some cases in which medications may be helpful for specific circumstances. I have several minor attracted friends who get a large benefit from anti-depressant medication because they deal with ongoing depression issues.

An extremely overactive sex drive that is interfering with someone's ability to function in daily life might be prescribed medication to reduce that sex drive, and in extreme cases, chemical castration may be an option to consider. Initially, I was prescribed a medication called naltrexone, and while the primary purpose of it is to treat drug or alcohol addiction, it can lower (but not eliminate) someone's sex drive. It does not affect testosterone and is not chemical castration. I use that as one single example of a medication that could be prescribed. I went off of it because the side effects were bothersome, and I felt it was not needed in my situation and my doctor agreed and allowed me to cease taking it.

A therapist will have their own ideas about prescribing medication, and the practice they operate out of may have their own in-house or in-system psychiatrist. The bottom line is that you have control and consent over what medications you take and what medications you are prescribed. For each medication, Google the name of the drug (the long complicated name, not the one that is easy to pronounce). You should be able to locate a list of uses, side effects, and other information that can help you make an informed decision about whether the medication is right for you. Be honest and ask questions, and make sure you understand why a medication is being prescribed and what it is intended to do.

From what I understand of medications, it can take some experimenting to determine the right dosage and combination to achieve the desired goal. Some medications require time to build up in the body before they become effective, while other medications have more immediate effects. Some medication requires accurate timing when taking, others are slightly more lenient in when you can take them. Do not self-medicate with any prescribed medications and listen to your doctor.

Recommendations And Cautions When Finding A Therapist

With all of that being said, there are therapists who have no idea what they are doing, or how mandatory reporting affects these issues. My experience was with a therapist who I know has a lot of experience treating people with sexual issues. She is experienced with victims of sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse, sexual assault, as well as with perpetrators of these crimes. She is also experienced with people who have attractions to minors but have not acted. But there are therapists who do not have these experiences. Your first order of business is to find a therapist who is at least somewhat experienced in dealing with sexual issues. Without that experience, you may be taking a risk by talking about your attraction to children.

When selecting a therapist, you should be asking some preliminary questions, such as:

  • How many years of experience do they have with sex-specific areas? (the more the better)
  • How many clients have they treated with a sex-specific problem? (the more the better)
  • What sex-specific issues have you treated in the past? (you want someone who can understand)
  • Have they treated people who have perpetrated child sexual abuse? If so, how many clients? (at least one is helpful)
  • What are the limits of confidentiality? (they should be able to give a few examples)
  • What is their mandatory reporting policy? (they should be able to give a thorough and understandable explanation)
  • Have they worked with victims of child sexual abuse? (you want to hear yes)
  • Are you affiliated with ATSA? (you want to hear yes, if no, continue asking questions)
  • Are you a sex-positive therapist? (you want to hear yes)
  • Do you use cognitive-behavioral theory? (you want to hear yes)
These questions should be answered in the first meeting with the therapist, or answerable by their receptionist/staff. By asking these questions, you can weed out the people who are unfamiliar with these areas, and people who have a negative bias towards those with pedophilia. Do not worry about understanding terms like sex-specific, sex-positive, or other terms (ATSA is the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, one of the resources at the bottom of this post). Your therapist, if they are familiar with these areas, will know what they mean, and both terms cannot be answered in a nutshell.


Disclosing Your Attractions

Telling people that you have attractions to children, also called 'disclosure', must be done with caution: Once you tell someone, your information is in their hands. Ensure that it is someone you can trust before you tell them. It may be helpful to feel out what they think about child molestation, pedophilia, or sex offenders. Mentioning it in casual conversation in the midst of a similar topic (like crime, disabilities/mental health, etc.) could be one way to feel out what they think about related issues. Someone who thinks all pedophiles should be killed or locked up indefinitely is a great example of someone not to tell, and if that person is close to you, it may be hard to hear, but you are better off not telling someone who is not a safe person to talk to. Someone who does not know the difference between a pedophile and a child molester is likely also unsafe.

On the other hand, someone who is at least somewhat sympathetic (ie, "Those pedophiles have a terrible disorder and need help") might be slightly safer. You may be lucky enough to hear the person you are feeling out say that pedophiles have an unfortunate disorder and need psychological help, rather than hearing them use choice derogatory terms. My point is that you and only you can gauge if someone is safe to tell. 

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you have to be careful about who you tell, particularly on the internet. It is generally a bad idea to disclose your attractions online beside your real name and where you live. Disclosing your attractions absolutely has to involve the correct people for your own safety. The stigma, while it is changing and improving, is still extremely negative and most people do not make the distinction between someone who is attracted to children and someone who has molested a child. Many also see anyone attracted to children as a safety risk to children. The trick is finding the correct person or support group to disclose to.

Resources For Understanding Pedophilia For Muggles

The "muggles" means someone who is not a pedophile/MAP, and is a reference to Harry Potter. I cannot give specific guidance for specific situations, as every situation and every individual is different. However, I can point you to my handy list of resources regarding pedophilia. The Tiny URL is on the right if you wish to use that rather than the full URL (a shorter URL can be useful for sharing on Twitter and other places with character limits).

a. Todd Nickerson's Story: http://tinyurl.com/pq8dolk
b. How Should Society Treat Pedophiles Who Do Not Offend: http://tinyurl.com/gn59l7c
c. Philosophical-Based Ethical Thesis on Pedophilia: http://tinyurl.com/hesguaa
d. Understanding Who Does And Does Not Abuse A Child And Why: http://tinyurl.com/hmu6t7u
e. Truths About Pedophilia Can Make Kids Safer: http://tinyurl.com/jnnneg7
f. Why Dehumanizing Jared Fogle Enables Abuse: http://tinyurl.com/j95ymyk
g. Experts Answering FAQ's About Pedophilia: http://tinyurl.com/j62zbfm
i. Description Of Pedophilia In The New York Times: http://tinyurl.com/jspk28n
j. Does Pedophilia Act Like A Sexual Orientation: http://tinyurl.com/gryxcx5
k. Research In The United States About Pedophilia (Help Wanted): http://tinyurl.com/gm5m7ot
l. Pedophilia and Getting Help/Help Wanted Articlehttp://tinyurl.com/kv34t9a

These can be helpful articles for friends or family members to read. It is highly likely, even if you do find someone who is sympathetic towards the issue to disclose to, that they do not know specific information about it. They may have no idea how to help you, or how to be of any kind of assistance. They may make assumptions about why you are telling them the information. Virtuous Pedophiles, linked below, is an online community that can help you through making disclosures in specific situations.

Online Resource Directory:

Hotlines in the United States:

Stop It Now! 1-888-PREVENT 
Stop It Now also has programs in other countries, which may be found by Googling "Stop It Now" alongside your country, if they exist in your country.
The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers at 503-643-1023
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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