Despite the fact that MAPs suffer from numerous mental health issues, they seldom seek therapy (Cohen, Ndukwe, Yaseen, & Galynker, 2018). They feel that they will be misunderstood, judged as dangerous, and treated unethically (B4U-ACT, 2011b; Cacciatori, 2017; Levenson, Willis, & Vicencio, 2017). A survey from B4U-ACT (2011a) seems to confirm the basis for these fears, particularly for those in mandated therapy. Thus, lack of compassion in mental health services contributes to the stigma-related stress that keeps MAPs out of therapy even when they need or desire it (Jahnke, Smith, Geradt, & Hoyer, 2015).
Though professionals are increasingly employing methods like mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy (Walton & Duff, 2017; Bailey, Bernhard, & Hsu, 2016), some still consider conversion therapies a legitimate way of “curing” pedophiles of their attraction (Cohen & Galynker, 2009). Current therapy for MAPs has also largely emphasized prevention as the primary goal instead of the individual’s mental health and well-being (Houtepen, Sijtsema, & Bogaerts, 2015; Jahnke, Philipp, & Hoyer, 2014; Beier et al., 2007; “Pessimism about pedophilia,” 2010). This approach often makes it possible for professionals to distort therapeutic methods (e.g., the aforementioned CBT) in the name of preventing sexual offending, which contributes to the lack of faith MAPs have about being treated with the dignity they deserve, and serves as an additional deterrent to their seeking help.
B4U-ACT. (2011a). MENTAL HEALTH CARE & PROFESSIONAL LITERATURE. Retrieved from http://www.b4uact.org/research/survey-results/spring-2011-survey/.
B4U-ACT. (2011b). YOUTH, SUICIDALITY, AND SEEKING CARE. Retrieved from http://www.b4uact.org/research/survey-results/youth-suicidality-and-seeking-care/.
Beier, K.M., Neutze, J., Mundt, I.A., Ahlers, C.J., Goecker, D., Konrad, A., & Schaefer, G.A. (2007). Encouraging self-identified pedophiles and hebephiles to seek professional help: First results of the Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD). Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 545-549.
Cacciatori, H. (2017). The Lived Experiences of Men Attracted to Minors and Their Therapy-Seeking Behaviors (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Walden University, Minneapolis, MN.
Cohen, L.J., Ndukwe, N., Yaseen, Z., & Galynker, I. (2018). Comparison of Self-Identified Minor-Attracted Persons Who Have and Have Not Successfully Refrained From Sexual Activity With Children. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 44(3), 217-230.
Cohen, L.J. & and Galynker, I. (2009). Psychopathology and personality traits of pedophiles: issues for diagnosis and treatment. Psychiatric Times, 26(6), 25.
Houtepen, J.A.B.M., Sijtsema, J.J., & Bogaerts, S. (2015). Being Sexually Attracted to Minors: Sexual Development, Coping With Forbidden Feelings, and Relieving Sexual Arousal in Self-Identified Pedophiles. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 00(00), 1-21. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2015.1061077.
Jahnke, S., Philipp, K., & Hoyer, J. (2014). Stigmatizing attitudes towards people with pedophilia and their malleability among psychotherapists in training. Child Abuse & Neglect, 40, 93-102.
Levenson, J. S., Willis, G. M., & Vicencio, C. P. (2017). Obstacles to help-seeking for sexual offenders: Implications for prevention of sexual abuse. Journal Of Child Sexual Abuse: Research, Treatment, & Program Innovations For Victims, Survivors, & Offenders, 26(2), 99-120. doi:10.1080/10538712.2016.1276116.
Pessimism about pedophilia. (2010, July). Harvard Mental Health Letter.