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Internet Pedophiles Treating Perpetrators & Victims
Internet Pedophiles continuing education MFT CEUs

Section 1
Structure of Pedophilic Interest

CEU Question 1 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Internet
Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs

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On this track, we will examine the stages that a pedophilic client will undergo during an addictive experience.  These stages include: preoccupation; ritualization; compulsive sexual behavior; and despair.

4 Stages of a Pedophilic Addictive Experience

#1 Preoccupation
The first stage of the addictive experience is preoccupation.  Pedophiles become hostages of their own obsession.  Do you agree?  Their obsessions about child pornography or other sexual acts which involve children become intrusive on their daily activities.  Jim, age 34, stated, "I couldn’t get these images out of my head.  They invaded my life.  I would start work, but then, all of a sudden, I would get flashes of my nephew in my mind, doing things I wish I hadn’t thought of.  Personally, I’ve never enacted them out with him, but I will go to websites and try to instant message kids, just so I can flirt with the ideas." 

I stated to Jim, "Because of your obsession, every introduction and meeting passes through your sexually obsessive filter.  Normally, these obsessions begin to interfere with daily life, and other areas are affected.  Does that ever happen with you?"  Jim stated, "Yeah, I couldn’t concentrate on work, all I could think about were these images and how to make them come about.  I can’t sleep, so I spend most of my time on the internet.  Sometimes, when I’m chatting with people I know are adults, I’ll fantasize that they’re really young teens." 

Clients like Jim are addicted to sexual behavior, and, in the case of pedophiles, become addicted and preoccupied with the thought of sexual acts with children.  I stated to Jim, "I’d like you to think of this preoccupation as a warning sign that’s telling you to watch your steps.  When you begin to feel the obsession taking over, be mindful of it and of your behaviors."  Think of your Jim.  Is he experiencing this sexual preoccupation?  How would you address his preoccupation?

#2 Ritualization
The second stage is ritualization.  In this stage, clients will revert to the same modus operandi or method which enhances their preoccupation and arousal.  Many pedophiles will use the same website and alias each time, even though it makes apprehension easier for others.  This ritualization helps the pedophile to focus his attention on the sexual act itself and can start the rush of excitement. 

Norm, age 45, had narrowed his ritualization to phrases and words.  He stated, "I used the same lines over and over again:  ‘I understand,’ ‘oh my god, that sucks!’ or the most effective one, ‘you’re so smart’ or ‘special’ or ‘pretty.’  I didn’t have to think about an intelligent conversation, I just used the same ideas over and over again." This preoccupation trance is as important as sexual contact or orgasm

The intoxication of the whole experience is what the pedophile seeks in order to move through the cycle from despair to exhilaration.  The search and suspense absorb the pedophile’s concentration and energy.  Net surfing, flirtation, preparation, are all part of the mood alteration.  Think of your Norm.  Is he using rituals to heighten their sense of arousal?

#3 Compulsive Sexual Behavior
The third phase is compulsive sexual behavior.  This stage is marked by the actual carrying out of a behavior.  Whether it be visiting child pornographic websites or abusing a child physically, the pedophile client rarely has control over his behaviors.  In a way, he acts as an addict would, promising himself that he will stop but unable to. 

Jim stated, "I always thought I could control this behavior.  I was laboring under the false perception that my body and mind were under my discipline.  This was obviously not so.  No matter how many times I tried, I could not break myself.  At my nephew’s birthday party, I promised myself never to jerk off to him again, but that lasted for about a week." 

I stated to Jim, "When you try to control your behavior by yourself, it will almost always fail.  However, you still cling to the hope that you will not have to admit you have a problem.  When you don’t succeed, yet another indictment of self-control and morality is added to ever-increasing shame."  Think of your pedophilic client.  Is he compulsively indulging in his sexual fantasies?  Is this affecting his self-esteem?

#4 Despair
In addition to preoccupation, ritualization, and compulsive sexual behavior, the fourth and final stage is despair.  Despair becomes extremely potent when the sense of failure at not having lived up to resolutions to stop combines with hopelessness about ever being able to stop.  The amount of self-pity a pedophilic client experiences is related to how particularly degrading, humiliating, or risky the behavior was.  If the act violated personal values, the pedophile experiences self-hatred as well. 

Phil, age 28, had been luring teenage girls to his house through the internet for some time.  He would convince them that he loved them and would arrange a private meeting.  After having gotten them there, he would provoke them into sexual acts.  Phil stated, "I was raised Christian, I know better than to do this!  I hate myself for this.  I betray these girls’ trust every time I approach them.  The only way I can make myself stop feeling so awful is to begin thinking about it all over again!  It never ends!" 

Like in Phil’s case, each repetition builds upon the previous experiences and solidifies the reiterative pattern of the addiction.  Think of your Phil.  Is he experiencing self-hate because of his pedophilic behaviors?

Technique:  Reversing Core Beliefs
To help clients, like Jim, Norm, and Phil confront the despair they felt after one of their addictive experiences, I asked them to try "Reversing Core Beliefs."  I have found that many clients live under the apprehension of certain unshakable beliefs.  Some of these include, "I am evil" and "No one can satisfy me."  I asked them to go home and to write out a list of core beliefs that they felt caused them the most pain and anguish. 

Norm included on his list, "I need sex all the time" and "Other people think I’m disgusting."  I then asked them to write contradicting statements on another card, addressing all the statements on the first list.  Norm included on this card, "I have other, deeper emotional needs that need to be fulfilled" and "I need to find that person who will love me as I am."  Think of your Norm.  Would he or she benefit from "Reversing Core Beliefs"?  We will discuss Core Beliefs more thoroughly on a later track.

On this track, we examined the phases that a pedophile will undergo during an addictive experience.  These stages included: preoccupation; ritualization; compulsive sexual behavior; and despair.

On the next track, we will discuss dimensions of developmental causes.  These dimensions include:  self-image and relationships; needs; and sexuality.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Dombert, B., Antfolk, J., Kallvik, L., Zappalà, A., Osterheider, M., Mokros, A., & Santtila, P. (2017). Identifying pedophilic interest in sex offenders against children with the indirect choice reaction time task. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 33(5), 345–351. 

Guassi Moreira, J. F., Sahi, R., Ninova, E., Parkinson, C., & Silvers, J. A. (2020). Performance and belief-based emotion regulation capacity and tendency: Mapping links with cognitive flexibility and perceived stress. Emotion. Advance online publication. 

Helmus, L., Ó Ciardha, C., & Seto, M. C. (2015). The Screening Scale for Pedophilic Interests (SSPI): Construct, predictive, and incremental validity. Law and Human Behavior, 39(1), 35–43. 

Mackaronis, J. E., Strassberg, D. S., & Marcus, D. K. (2011). The latent structure of Multiphasic Sex Inventory–Assessed Pedophilic Interest. Psychological Assessment, 23(4), 1017–1022.

Seto, M. C., Wood, J. M., Babchishin, K. M., & Flynn, S. (2012). Online solicitation offenders are different from child pornography offenders and lower risk contact sexual offenders. Law and Human Behavior, 36(4), 320–330.

Stephens, S., McPhail, I. V., Heasman, A., & Moss, S. (2021). Mandatory reporting and clinician decision-making when a client discloses sexual interest in children. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 53(3), 263–273.

Stussi, Y., Sennwald, V., Pool, E. R., Delplanque, S., Brosch, T., Bianchi-Demicheli, F., & Sander, D. (2021). Individual concerns modulate reward-related learning and behaviors involving sexual outcomes. Motivation Science.

Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K. J., & Ybarra, M. L. (2008). Online "predators" and their victims: Myths, realities, and implications for prevention and treatment. American Psychologist, 63(2), 111–128. 

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 1
What are the phases that a pedophile will undergo during an addictive experience? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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