Coastal Child and Adult Therapeutic Services

Therapy for Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB)

CCATS specialises in providing psychological assessment and treatment services for young people who display harmful sexual behaviour. We also offer support and training for the people involved in the young person’s care. This includes residential care teams, foster carers, parents, social workers and youth justice workers.

CCATS have developed a treatment pathway for young people with harmful sexual behaviour based on the empirical literature regarding effective treatment for this specific client group.


This includes a comprehensive initial assessment to formulate the psychological needs of the individual within their social context. This identifies relevant treatment targets for intervention. The assessment incorporates information from a range of sources.

Goal Setting and Good Lives / Good Way Model (Ward & Stewart, 2003; West, 2007)

This phase of treatment involves setting goals for the future to develop a sense of self and consider sub-goals for achieving these goals. The Good Lives Model has a twin focus of reducing recidivism by helping offenders to develop and achieve a Good Life Plan. The aim is to equip individuals to secure primary human goods in socially acceptable and personally meaningful ways thereby reducing the need to offend.

Emotional recognition and management; Stress and coping

Negative affective states are often associated with the manifestation of harmful sexual behaviour (HSB; Ryan, Leversee & Lane, 2010). There is often the need for young people to recognise and regulate emotion more effectively . Furthermore, there is usually a need to increase coping skills and stress management skills.

Social skills

Social skills are often deficited in young people and this deficit can be very relevant for young people with harmful sexual behaviour (Hunter, 2011). Behavioural practice is given through role-play to increase skills in these areas. Developing greater impulse control is also a focus of this phase of treatment.

Health masculinity including sexual knowledge and relationship skills

This incorporates increasing sexual knowledge, developing healthy attitudes towards sex and towards the rights of others. It also incorporates skills to develop healthy relationships with others.

Consequences for self and others

This phase of treatment Involves developing a cognitive and affective understanding of the negative consequences of harmful sexual behaviour. This understanding is developed for the victim, their families and the young person.

Relapse prevention

This phase of the programme is to provide skills practice to effectively manage risk whilst moving towards future goals. This is a relevant part of treatment intervention (Hunter, 2011).


Traumatic childhood experiences are often encountered in young people with harmful sexual behaviour and can relate to emotional difficulties. Consequently, anxiety disorders such as social anxiety and post-traumatic stress are often presented (Becker, 1998). These difficulties need to be supportively addressed at a time that is relevant for the individual.

The individual’s treatment needs are paramount in the CCATS treatment pathway and psychological intervention for problems such as substance misuse or deviant sexual interests are often adjunct. The treatment pathway remains flexible, tailored to the individual young person’s needs.

Assessment model

Our assessment model is bespoke, and considers a range of treatment needs for young people who have demonstrated HSB. It aims to inform agencies, as well as raising awareness in young people, about risk; factors that elevate it and those that protect against it and/or reduce it. Ultimately it aims to identify treatment needs for each young person, and to identify a care pathway of support.