Thursday, January 17, 2019

We never know where the next innovation will come from

By David S. Prescott, LICSW

I recently had the opportunity to provide training on the Good Lives Model and Feedback-Informed Treatment in a secure treatment center for adolescents. The program has been able to accomplish what others only dream of with kids deemed by the courts to need this intensive level of supervision and structure. After the training, I had the privilege of meeting with a number of treatment graduates as well as their student advisory board, an independent collection of students currently in treatment. I also toured the facility, observed people and situations, often beyond their full awareness, etc. Just imagine:

·   In a program that serves well over 100 adolescents, they have not had to engage in physical management in over 560 days.

·   As a part of eliminating physical management, they also reduced the number of staff injuries significantly.

·    They present at national conferences on the methods they used to accomplish this remarkable feat. The short version is that it involves strong leadership, a philosophy of trusting kids to do the right thing under the right circumstances, and intensive in-house training on how to have a conversation with a distressed teenager and how to prevent appearing threatening.

·    The program was an early adopter of trauma-informed care and has used trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for the better part of a decade.

·    They incorporate client feedback in a number of areas through the use of anonymous surveys. The process itself is further anonymized through the way staff members handle each survey.

·    The student advisory board takes an active role in the hiring of staff and has actually contributed substantively, including accurately identifying candidates who were unfit to hire.

·    Taken in sum, the program has worked like very few others to develop a “culture of feedback” in which its students are free to speak with staff at all levels about their doubts and concerns. They are able to do so without fear of retribution and with confidence that they will be taken seriously. In a large institution, this is itself a  major accomplishment.

·     The program tracks outcomes and finds that only a small number of its clients return to a similar or higher level of care. They break this data down further to identify which clinicians are more and less successful in this regard so that all can improve the services they deliver.

Although there are good and not-so-good youth-serving programs all around North America, what makes one of the biggest differences? This program uses the polygraph. Those familiar with my work know that I have long been sceptical of the polygraph with adolescents. As just one example, consider this post by myself, Kieran McCartan, and Alissa Ackerman from last year, in which we discussed how the success of an intervention can rise and fall on its implementation.

To a sceptic such as myself, this implementation comes as a refreshing surprise. From internal data collected, it is clear that the majority of clients are not only comfortable with the polygraph as it is implemented but endorse its use wholeheartedly. Comments from students who had nothing to gain or lose by being honest in interviews focused on how the process of using the polygraph helped them to be honest with themselves about their treatment needs. Inconclusive results were as likely to activate discussions in treatment as to the possible role of adversity and trauma in the backgrounds of the students as anything else. Policies are in place that firmly establishes its use as a treatment tool. In fact, to an outside observer like myself, it appeared that the program had worked to wrest polygraph processes away from professionals outside the program in order to implement its use in the context of the client-centered values described above.

Of course, some aspects of this program’s polygraph use are clearly at variance with other implementations and deserve comment. I have personally worked with some polygraph examiners who should probably never work with adolescents. That is a fair enough statement, as I have also spoken with examiners who don’t want to work with this population. Likewise, this program has no expectation that the polygraph will do anything except help teens to demonstrate to themselves or others that they are giving treatment, honesty, and meaningful personal change their best shot. Importantly, in the context in which these young people find themselves (entangled in the legal system and often at odds with their families), they are grateful for anything that helps them to get back on track quickly.

In addition to their consumer satisfaction and feedback measures, the program further uses these approaches to ensure that the polygraph is helping and not hurting any of the kids or their futures. Questions related to how comforting the examiner was to the child are at the forefront of questionnaires and clinical discussions; indeed, the students give specific feedback on the examiners themselves. Just as importantly, the polygraph is billed as something that confirms students’ statements rather than catching them lying. Ultimately, there is no over-selling or misrepresentation of the polygraph; the students are aware that it is far from perfect, and this is evidenced in their feedback.

Ultimately, any intervention can do harm when misapplied. This is why we have practice guidelines and codes of ethics. I have personally witnessed polygraph examinations that were anything but helpful. Unfortunately, as with other agency settings, it is a very difficult process to obtain approval for research from the court system involved. For the time, it is limited to its own practice-based evidence. At the present time, the program is continuing to work to improve. For example, while a very considerable majority felt that the polygraph process had helped them to forge better relationships with others, a majority also felt that they could have been better prepared.

In all, I left the experience feeling that the real question is not whether the polygraph should be used or not, but rather how programs can best focus on all of the myriad elements that make up a solid, youth-guided intervention. Although I have no plans to change my own practice, this experience points to the obvious need for professionals to keep an open mind and not simply assume that any other professional is either wrong or in need of instruction.

The challenge for practitioners in the field ultimately has to do with balancing the promise of better futures with minimal risk of harm. Like many other aspects of treatment (e.g., disclosing past abuse without the polygraph, focusing on victim empathy), it can take years of teamwork to accomplish this.

Again, one never knows where the next innovation will come from.



Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The “right” relationship in assessment and treatment: What does it look like?

By David S. Prescott, LISCW

It’s a little late for this to be a 2018 year in review post, but if I had to pick a single study from the last year with maximum implications for professionals working with people who abuse (whether sexually or otherwise), it would be one by Brandy Blasko and Faye Taxman. They found that “when the community supervision process was perceived [by the client] as procedurally fair, individuals under community supervision demonstrated positive criminal justice outcomes, that is, less self-reported criminal behavior, fewer official arrests, and fewer technical parole violations” (p. 414). Their measure of fairness included the client’s perception of being listened to by their probation officer.

Why is this study so important? For starters, it adds to what over 1,100 studies have found outside of forensic treatment circles: that the therapeutic alliance (also known as the working alliance) is fundamental to making treatment effective. And yet, too few in our field can even define it. Of course, developing any kind of professional relationship with people whose actions have been reprehensible can be a challenge, especially for those starting out in the field.
Bill Marshall and his colleagues found that the most effective treatment providers are warm, empathic, rewarding, and directive, but translating these qualities into one’s own practice can be a challenge.

Questioning the nature of professional relationships is not merely an academic point. Sexual and other forms of violence can cut deeply into the hearts and souls of professionals, as anyone who has followed the recent media attention to R. Kelly can attest. Virtually anyone who works in the areas of abuse and trauma has experienced those cases that leave a lasting mark on our souls, often with apparently indelible imagery. As some have recently noted, when the person who perpetrates violence has been a hero or practically wrote the soundtrack to one’s adolescence, the resulting anguish can be hard to escape and even contribute to burnout.

Recent discussions within and outside of ATSA circles have focused both on the impact of doing this work and the extent to which we should “like” our clients. To outsiders, one of the surprises of working in our field is how likable some of our clients can actually be. In some cases, this can become disconcerting, leading to questions as to where the boundaries are in developing the best working relationship. Complicating matters are the moral judgments professionals can have about their client’s actions, as well as concerns that their clients may be engaged in manipulation processes that resemble the approach behaviors used with those they’ve harmed. With all of these factors in the mix, how could we not wonder about what kind of relationship is most effective? Even beyond likability, many of us remember that the teachers, coaches, and colleagues we learned the most from were not necessarily those that we liked the best, but we respected them.

“What is the right relationship” may not, however, be the best question. Just as there are “treatments of choice”, there can also be “relationships of choice” … And these can vary based on who the therapist is. Implied within the Blasko and Taxman study is that it’s not a question about what kind of relationship you have as much as do you have agreement and buy-in as to the nature of your relationship. Very often, this centers on to what extent you have built up agreement on the goals you are working towards and the approaches used in treatment. This agreement on the nature of the relationship as well as the goals and tasks of treatment are the three areas originally defined by
Edward Bordin in 1979. Although mentioned frequently in trainings and social media (including this article by Scott Miller and me, and a blog post with our colleagues), it often appears to be an idea whose time is yet to come in the forensic arena.

One way to think about building the “right” relationship with clients might be to think about it one client at a time. You can ask yourself:

1.      What are this client’s goals and how can I best align them with the goals set out in his (or her) treatment plan and/or assessment reports?
2.      What kind of approach works best with this particular client and how can we develop agreement on the best way forward?
3.      Who am I to this client and how does s/he view my role within it? Do we have agreement on who I am to this person?
4.      Finally, how can I provide services in a way that are aligned with this person’s unique culture and strongly held values?

Seen through this lens, the question of the right relationship (and the boundaries within which it exists) may be easier to negotiate.

Of course, what is missing from this mix can be as important as what is there. In this way of working, professionals must strive to keep whatever moral judgements they have about clients’ actions separate from the assessment or treatment process itself. Likewise, it can be easy to overlook the importance of establishing agreement in these areas to begin with; all too often, professionals view the working alliance as something to establish at the start of treatment rather than an essential component throughout the experience. Finally, it can be tempting to think that we already have a good enough working alliance, and that we don’t need to ensure this on an ongoing basis. Unfortunately, Beech and Fordham found otherwise in our field. Finally, it assumes that professionals are willing to take into account their clients’ experiences, are able to think flexibly about their clients, and be willing to switch up their styles as needed.

In the end, however, I’ve always found that the additional attention to these areas pays dividends in terms of time saved trying to sort out why treatment isn’t moving faster.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Making the Case for Prevention

By Joan Tabachnick and Pamela Mejia

Prevention is like “Mom and Apple Pie.”  Everyone agrees that prevention is crucially important, everyone agrees we should support prevention, and there are a growing number of studies which show that prevention is the best investment our society can make – to stop sexual violence before anyone is harmed.  Yet even for professionals and advocates in our field, prevention is often an afterthought.  In the public domain, especially in the middle of the emotional reactions to yet one more horrifying case, one fact often gets lost: Sexual abuse is preventable.

How do we change that balance and integrate prevention into all of our work?  How do we convince the public and key stakeholders that prevention is important?

This fall Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG), in partnership with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), and RALIANCE released two new research-informed guides, titled Where we’re going and where we’ve been: Making the case for preventing sexual violence and Moving toward prevention: A guide for reframing sexual violence that describes:  

1)      how we communicate about sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual assault,
2)      how audiences understand the problem and equally important,
3)      how to use that understanding to focus on prevention. 

This research began five years ago with a deep dive into analyzing current narratives about sexual violence and prevention through the lens of news coverage.  They then learned how experts and field leaders communicate and think about prevention through structured interviews and listening sessions around the country, including at ATSA board meetings and annual conferences.  Finally, with the help of Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, they conducted extensive public opinion research to identify which stories, values, data points, and storytellers could help illustrate for different audiences that preventing sexual abuse and assault is not only possible, but a concrete and important part of our public, community and family response.    

Sexual violence prevention is more than just education.  A comprehensive approach includes tertiary prevention, the core of what ATSA members do every day.  However, ATSA also has information that is key to primary prevention – but how do members communicate that crucial information?

These resources describe keyframes that ATSA members can use to create an effective prevention message – a message that helps the listener understand their complex emotional reactions and engage in the idea of primary prevention as a necessary solution.  In brief, an effective message about prevention should:

·         Evoke shared values with the audience
·         Acknowledge any of the audience’s negative feelings and lingering doubts
·         Describe the speaker’s journey (our own understanding) of how we began to understand prevention
·         Articulate the problem clearly
·         Name at least one concrete solution and illustrate success. 

These messages, and the guide’s “rule of the road” fit well to the recent ATSA Journal statement asking ATSA members to use person-first language and to take the time to describe the behaviors of our clients, rather than labeling them as “sex offenders”, the exact problematic behaviors we work to change. 

To learn more about each of these components – and the research that shaped the recommendations – please see Where We’re Going and Where We’ve Been and Moving Toward Prevention.

The list looks may look daunting  – but the ATSA Prevention Committee has already developed some of these key elements in our framing document on how ATSA members can talk about prevention (See ATSA’s Framing Document).  That frame evokes the shared values that guide our work – preventing sexual abuse to keep our communities safer.  The Prevention Committee’s infographics (See ATSA’s Infographic Documents) also articulate the problem and what ATSA can offer in terms of a solution.  ATSA has a unique perspective to offer about preventing the perpetuation of sexual violence – a critical element in preventing first-time harm.

BMSG also challenges each of us to articulate our own journey towards understanding the need for prevention.  If you are reading this blog posting, you care about prevention – can you also talk about why you care and can you tell someone how you got there?  What was the “turning point” where you started to believe prevention was possible, or when you decided to pursue this work? 

If you are moved by this work, as I am, take the time to explore these resources:  Visit BMSG’s website for more information on framing prevention, examples of how to apply these guidelines to specific types of systems-level change, and ideas about how to engage the media to talk about prevention.

With all of the passion that ATSA members bring to our work, our everyday conversations about what we do and WHY we do this work to make our communities safer it is essential that we do not do this alone but that we also involve our contacts, colleagues and peers.  Let them know that prevention is possible.

Joan Tabachnick is the co-chair of ATSA’s prevention committee


Pamela Mejia, Head of Research for the BMSG

Monday, December 17, 2018

It’s time to get over it: Risk goes down with time free in the community

 By David S. Prescott, LICSW, & Kieran McCartan, PhD

An extraordinary trend in recent criminological and psychological research, which has gone largely unnoticed in public discussions of policy and practice, is that a person’s risk of re-offence goes down the longer they are in the community. Given the very high stakes of public protection, risk management and human rights, it’s time these findings receive wider public discussion.

In 2010, Michael Caldwell published a meta-analysis of studies of juveniles in which he noted that “Studies that examine sexual recidivism during adolescence find monthly sexual recidivism rates that are more than 4 times higher than those found in studies that rely only on adult recidivism records. Neither the level of secured placement (community, residential, or secured custody) nor the use of arrest versus conviction as an outcome significantly influences sexual recidivism rates”. In other words, adolescents re-offend less as they enter adulthood, which reinforces the criminological research on general recidivism (by leading authors such as David Farrington and Terrie Moffitt) and desistence (for example, Fergus MacNeill, Shadd Maruna, and Beth Weaver).

In 2014, Karl Hanson, Andrew Harris, L. Maaike Helmus, and David Thornton published a study examining the re-offence rates of adults and found that “Overall, the risk of sexual recidivism was highest during the first few years after release, and decreased substantially the longer individuals remained sex offence-free in the community. This pattern was particularly strong for the high-risk sexual offender….Whereas the 5-year sexual recidivism rate for high-risk sex offenders was 22% from the time of release, this rate decreased to 4.2% for the offenders in the same static risk category who remained offence-free in the community for 10 years.

Most recently, Rachel Kahn, Gina Ambroziak, Karl Hanson, and David Thornton examined 5-year re-offence rates, and – focusing on the lowest risk adults who had sexually abused -- they found that, “Within this lowest risk category, recidivism rates are equivalent to rates of spontaneous offending among non-offender populations… Adjusted to a common 5-year period, estimated recidivism rates ranged from 0.22 to 5.67% with a median rate of 0.90%. The lowest recidivism rates were observed for the studies that used incarceration as the outcome criteria.” Kahn and her colleagues also asked, “If we are to take the Risk Principle seriously, what level of sexual offender-specific treatment should be provided to individuals whose risk is so low that 98 out of 100 would not re-offend if we did nothing?

Why is this so important? To start, many professionals working with people who have abused have worked under the assumption that people who abuse are unable or unwilling to change. Ideas such as “there is no cure for sex offending” were so pervasive as to be written into statute. Indeed, many laws and the findings of the US Supreme Court have been based on the faulty belief that re-offence rates are “frightening and high”. Despite international news coverage dispelling this misconception, little has changed. It is vital that evaluators and therapists alike are aware of the importance of time free in the community.

Taking together the findings from elsewhere in the literature, it seems that the most effective means for preventing sexual re-offence lie in active approaches, such as treatment and supervision based in principles of risk, need, and responsivity. Currently, our communities all too often rely on more passive approaches that restrict liberties, such as public registration, notification, and residency restrictions, but these approaches do not reduce risk.

Until our communities and policymakers recognize that the same “rules” and evidence are found across people who offend (and that people who offend sexually are not unique) based on studies now involving hundreds of thousands of criminal offenders, we will continue to funnel resources into policies found to be largely ineffective. Given that knowledge about what works to prevent crime is readily available to these policymakers, it is unconscionable that there has been little, if any, move towards empirically informed policy within our legislatures.

Just last week, we blogged about international perspectives on the management of people convicted of sex crimes and noted the number of countries that appear to follow the United States’ lead. It’s time to stop this trend and up our game with respect to informing the public about the many ways we can prevent abuse meaningfully. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A special issue of the IATSO Journal: A brief overview

By David S. Prescott, LICSW

The journal Sexual Offender Treatment, now in its 13th year, recently released a special double issue on special issues in sex offender risk assessment and management. In doing so, it provides an overview of what is happening in areas around the world. The project is definitely worth a deep dive, with this post offered as a summary and invitation to further review of this issue. The journal is published by ATSA’s sister organization, the International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders.

As co-blogger Kieran McCartan observed in the preface, “This special edition started as an international roundtable at the Annual ATSA (Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers) conference in Kansas City in 2017, which was organised by the ATSA international committee, which had representatives from 9 countries (UK, Belgium, USA, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Italy, & Germany).”  Contributors to this roundtable were asked to submit 4,000 words, with additional commentary provided by ATSA President Franca Cortoni and IATSO Secretary General Martin Rettenberger.

This double issue is too extensive to cover in detail but contains fascinating updates from around the world. Danielle Harris and Samara McPhedran open with an overview of trends in Australia, which include similar trends towards more punitive responses to those in the USA. For example, although there is a registry of persons convicted of sexual crimes, it is not publicly accessible. There are some (concerned parents, lawmakers, and a very vocal news commentator) who are pushing to change this and expand the reach and accessibility of the registry.

Meanwhile, in Belgium, Kasia Uzieblo and her colleagues contribute with a discussion on the need for consistent approaches to risk assessment, particularly in the wake of a high-profile, tragic case. As elsewhere, the public’s moral outrage is a challenging backdrop against which to build science-based policies and approaches. In Canada, Mark Olver and L. Maaike Helmus describe the implementation of risk assessment measures, including recent controversies regarding the use of this instrumentation with people of aboriginal descent. In contrast to these countries, Anita Schlank describes the differences between many of the individual states within the US, including differences in sentencing and residence restrictions. Other contributions include those by Carla Xella in Italy, Anette Birgersson in Sweden, Ting Ming Hwa and colleagues in Singapore, Wineke Smid in the Netherlands, and many others.

Understanding what is happening in other corners of the world can produce considerable dividends in understanding how our individual jurisdictions can be better. Further, learning about innovations elsewhere can be enormously helpful in our attempts to end sexual violence.




Monday, December 3, 2018

Application of the Good Lives Model in China


By David Prescott, LICSW, Gwenda Willis, PhD

During the past week, we were invited to provide a four-day training on the Good Lives Model (GLM) to the Society of Rehabilitation and Crime Prevention (SRACP) in Hong Kong. As many readers will be aware, the GLM has come into widespread use around the world. Originally designed with a focus on people who have sexually abused, the GLM can be (and has been) modified for use with people who have committed a number of harmful behaviors.  Indeed, the SRACP works alongside people returning from prison for any type of offending.

In essence, the GLM holds that all human beings seek out certain experiences, goals, and states of being (Prescott, Willis, & Yates, 2015; Willis, Prescott, & Yates, 2013; Ward & Maruna, 2007). For example, virtually everyone wants to be good at something in his or her life. The GLM further holds that in many instances, these good life goals play a central role in problem behavior. For example, one’s drive towards independence and autonomy can contribute to harmful behaviors that are as diverse as partner violence and substance abuse. The same goes for good life goals such as being connected to others, finding peace of mind, and experiencing happiness and pleasure. Ultimately, the GLM separates itself from other forms of treatment for problem behaviors through its twin focus on building competencies as well as managing risks. It does this with an explicit focus on “approach goals”: those goals we set for ourselves that we can approach instead of simply avoiding.

Applying any model across cultures brings inherent challenges. Fortunately, SRACP had experience in this area. They have been active for many years in selecting empirically grounded methods and approaches that could be useful within their specific context. In recent years, they had worked to import methods for adhering to the principles of risk, need, and responsivity. As a group, the professionals involved (primarily from social work backgrounds) had studied in additional areas of psychotherapy, such as Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing.

The broadest discussion of cultural differences in the application of the GLM was in the area of two of the GLM’s overarching common life goals: Personal choice/independence (i.e. having a measure of independence and autonomy in one’s life) and relatedness (i.e. being connected to others). In the context of Asian societies with collectivistic orientations, differentiating these goals can be a challenge. For example, the simple question, “How are you doing” brings a different meaning in the Far East than it would in the western world. “How are you doing” implicitly means, “How are you doing, including in the context of your family and other loved ones?” When clarifying the elements of an individual’s desired future lifestyle, separating these components out for discussion can be a novel experience. Similarly, the GLM’s focus on an individual’s conception of a good life and their good life plan was integrally linked to that of their families.  Nevertheless, personal choice/independence was implicated in many of the case examples of crime that came up during the four days. The individuals that SRACP treats have often behaved in ways that bring them into conflict with their overarching goal of being connected to others (for example, by committing crimes that bring dishonor to them). Although finding the right balance of independence and connection to others can be difficult for anyone in the world, it provides particularly rich opportunities for clinical discussion in China.

SRACP has also grounded its implementation efforts in research. Implementation science has shown that these efforts can take very considerable time and effort. It is never as simple as bringing in outside experts and providing training. A major focus for us has been in building on the experience of others to find implementation strategies that involve and are meaningful to those working at the front lines. To this end, consultation and the development of materials for assessing progress in the SRACP’s specific context are ongoing.


References

Prescott, D.S., Willis, G.W., & Yates, P.M. (2015). Application of an integrated good lives approach to sexual offender treatment. In D.S. Prescott & R.J. Wilson (Eds.), Very different voices: Perspectives and case studies in treating sexual aggression (pp. 176-195). Holyoke, MA: NEARI Press.
Ward, T., & Maruna, S. (2007). Rehabilitation: Beyond the risk assessment paradigm. London: Routledge.
Willis, G.M., Prescott, D.S., &Yates, PM. (2013). The Good Lives Model (GLM) in theory and practice. Sexual Abuse ln Australia and New Zealand: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 5, 3-9.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Multi-agency and multi-national approaches to sexual abuse

By Kieran McCartan, PhD

Last week Latvia, in conjunction with the EU, the Confederation of European Probation, hosted two conferences on the management of people who have committed sexual abuse. This blog is going to discuss both conferences and the lessons learnt from them.

Multi-agency Co-operation: Sexual Offending (21st November 2018)

This conference was organised and ran by the Latvian criminal justice organisations (i.e., Police, Probation & Prisons) in co-junction with related NGO’s (i.e., Center Dardedze) to discuss multi-agency co-operation in working with people who committed sexual offences, and their management, in Latvia. The main theme of the conference was co-operation and sharing best practice, which was facilitated through a series of keynotes and workshops covering a range of topics, including, (1) European perspective on work with sexual offenders (Willem van der Brugge), (2) The prevention of sexual abuse (Kieran McCartan); (3) Challenges and solutions relating to effective multiagency working (Mike Cutland; Jānis Zārdiņš, Valdis Groza & Iveta Štrausa; Māris Luste); (4) The aetiology and treatment of people who commit sexual abuse (Audrey Alards; Sanita Jakuševa & Evija Burkovska); (5) Victims of sexual abuse (Imants Jurevičius & Laila Balode; Laila Balode &Laura Ceļmale); (6) Pornography and Child Sexual Exploitation Material (Andris Šillers &Iveta Ķelle); & (7) Circles of Support and Accountability in Latvia (Jānis Nicmanis & Kristiāna Lapiņa). From the start of the conference it was apparent that all the lead organisations where on the same page when it came to understanding and responding to sexual abuse, everyone wanted the same thing – a victim oriented, evidence informed, collaborative approach to sexual abuse which was grounded and realistic. It made me reflect that we, those of us from countries with a more established approach to the management of people who committed sexual abuse, could learn a lot about the power of interagency co-operation from our Latvian colleagues. During the course of the conference, and the conversations that followed, it really stuck me that Latvia had really benefitted from collaboration with other European, as well as American and Canadian, colleagues over the past 3 years in upskilling their knowledge and practice in the area of sexual abuse. Latvia is now on a par, or close to being on a par, with other countries in terms of existing knowledge and in terms or emerging challenges as well as how to start to respond to them (i.e., online offending, the use of restorative justice, cross border issues, etc).

Reframing sexual abuse conference (22nd – 23rd November 2018)

The reframing sexual abuse conference was the 1st conference to be held by the Confederation of European ProbationExpert Group on Sexual Offenders”. The conference had 120+ attendees from 19 countries from across Europe (incl., Spain, Germany, Netherlands , Norway, Denmark, Lithuania, Ukraine, Sweden, Jersey, UK,  Belgium, Italy, Latvia) and outside of Europe (i.e., Japan, South Korea, Malta). The aim of the conference was to understand good practice in the field of sexual abuse from across Europe and to learn from each other’s good practices. The conference had 14 speakers from across 8 countries and covered topics, including (1) Circles of Support and Accountability (Mechtild Höing; Circles Europe); (2) the framing of sexual abuse (Kieran McCartan), (3) the challenges of integrating people who have sexually offended back into the community (Mike Cutland & David Briggs); (4) the risk assessment and management of people who have committed sexual abuse (Anvars Zavackis. Wineke Smid, Carla Xella, Laura Kuhle & Kasia Uzieblo; Marianne Fuglestved); (5) Online sexual abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation Material (Virginia Soldino & Maggie Brennan); & (6) the development of the Latvian approach to the management of people who have committed sexual abuse (Mr. Imants Jurevicius and Mr. Anvars Zavackis). At the start of the conference Audrey Alards (the chair of the Expert group) revealed the results of a CEP study on the experiences and practices of the management of people who have committed sexual abuse across Europe, it highlighted that there are still inconsistent practices with different countries do different things, resulting in a discussion around the need for a common framework. The conference really wanted to explore the outcomes of the expert working group data and held a roundtable with the four keynote speakers (Imants Jurevicius, Wineke Smid, Marianne Fuglestved & Mechtild Höing) which focused on their thoughts, attitudes and experiences on issues including community engagement, treatment, management, policy and practice. The roundtable emphasised the importance of collaboration, research, evidence based practice and ongoing communication. In addition to the presentations, the conference saw the formal launch of Circles Europe, which highlighted the challenges, practices and opportunities for public engagement in the integration of people who have committed sexual abuse back into the community. The Circles Europe launch demonstrated the power of adapting international good practice in countries specific ways that made communities safer from sexual abuse and sexual recidivism. The conference emphasised the importance of communication and collaboration, in the end the most important outcome was the fact that we as a community of researchers, practitioners and policy makers have to work together so that we can effectively prevent sexual abuse locally, nationally an internationally.