Date of Conferral







Mathew Geyer


Clinician attitudes toward a client have a significant influence on outcomes for that client's treatment. Exploring the attitudes of clinicians toward sex offenders can provide additional insights into methods to improve treatments for this population. The purpose of this qualitative grounded theory study was to examine the attitudes of clinical professionals who work with sex offenders to identify the specific ways that these attitudes influenced professional behaviors and client interactions. Grounded theory was used to move beyond a general description of the issue to formulate a theory regarding clinician work with sex offenders and its implications. The sample comprised 10 clinical professionals who worked with sex offenders in community mental health agencies. Open coding and axial coding were used to generate themes from in-depth semistructured interviews to collect data from clinicians who treated sex offenders. Findings indicated that the professionals were mostly concerned for the behavior of sex offenders, were willing to work with them despite feelings of anger and disgust and were curious about the possibility of treatment. Participants treated sex offenders like any other clients but emphasized the importance of safety during treatment. Participants balanced their obligations to the profession and the client with negative images and views of sex offenders. These professionals struggled when providing treatment to sex offenders but described strategies for coping or overcoming negative feelings, emotions, and biases. Clinicians can use these findings to deliver better planned care to this population, resulting in better therapeutic outcomes for sex offenders.