Methods: N=9 adolescents participated in Unite and Redefine, an virtual group intervention consisting of 12 sessions. The curriculum content includes processing shame, behavioural change, and instilling hope for healthy relationships. Participants were males aged 13-19 years who had sexually harmed and were referred to the group by their primary therapists, as a complement to individual therapy. At the completion of the intervention, the participants engaged in a grounded theory study. Data was collected through semi-structured virtual interviews of 45-60 minutes on Zoom. Three coders analyzed interview transcripts and videos concurrently on NVivo, and analyzed for open, axial and selective coding comprising constructivist grounded theory.
Results: Three key themes emerged related to the therapeutic experience of participants in Unite and Redefine: self-conceptualization, countering masculinity, and the importance of familial support. Participants noted that overall, the groups were helpful and a valuable addition to sexual offending-specific therapy. Content of sessions was less remarkable to participants, who favoured the opportunity to provide and receive support to their fellow group members while processing. Participants also stated that the opportunity to meet other youth was especially valuable, as isolation was a common experience prior to participation in the group. All participants expressed that they will be unlikely to offend again, and cited the processing opportunities with other youth as a valuable component of their treatment.
Conclusions and Implications: The results of this study demonstrate key elements of a social work group intervention for adolescents who have sexually harmed. As identified by the participants, mutual aid (Glassman, 2009) is an effective social groupwork modality to increase feelings of inclusion and support These findings can lead to recommendations about offending opportunities to engage in social work groups to youth in treatment for sexual, as a component of reducing recidivism.
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