Keywords: Denial; Sex Offending; Criminal Career; Responsivity Treatment.
Professionals working with sex offenders suggest that it is common for sex offenders to be in denial. The role of denial upon sex offending is controversial because it is compressed between two forces: the criminal justice system sees it as a factor that exacerbates risk; scientific evidence sees it as a psychologically meaningful factor useful in treatment. This study involves a sample of 40 Italian convicted sex offenders assessed for criminal careers, sexual risk (Static-99; Stable-2007) and denial (CIDSO). Significant differences emerged between heterogeneous offenders and specialized sex offenders. Denial was a responsivity factor for completing treatment. Sex offenders who committed only sex crimes and exhibited high denial, completed treatment, in comparison with those sex offenders involved in different types of crimes and with low denial, who interrupted treatment. Interventions designed to address rather than reject denial could be more effective because they can provide specific knowledge on how to differentiate risk, and how to maximize treatment engagement.