Evaluation and assessment of teen sexual behavior problems is essential for determining the scope of treatment needed. For youth involved in the legal system, typically the court will order that a Psycho-Sexual Evaluation or a Sexual Behavior Risk Assessment occur. These evaluations are sometimes referred to as sex offender-specific evaluations. For youth not involved in the court system, but struggling to manage sexual compulsive behavior, a comprehensive psycho-sexual assessment can also serve as a valuable guide for determining treatment needs. Psycho-sexual assessments typically cover the following areas:
- Level of risk for sexual and non–sexual recidivism;
- Recommended types and intensity of interventions that will be most beneficial, including level of care (e.g., home/community vs. more secure placement);
- The specific dynamic risk factors or criminogenic needs to be targeted through interventions;
- Amenability to interventions;
- Responsivity factors that may impact engagement in and response to interventions; and
- Strengths and protective factors relative to the individual, as well as those that exist within family, peer, and other community support systems.
Conversely, psychosexual evaluations should never be used for any of the following purposes:
- Determining guilt or innocence (which is well outside of the scope and boundaries of the mental health professional’s role);
- Identifying whether an individual is or is not a “sex offender” (which is not an appropriate referral question, because no specific type of assessment or set of assessment tools is designed for making this determination); or
- Concluding whether an adult or juvenile meets the “profile” of a sex offender (which does not exist; research consistently demonstrates the diversity of adults and juveniles who have committed sex offenses).
Youth in the STAR Guides Wilderness program submit to the psycho-sexual assessment as part of their treatment experience. This assessment conducted by Dr. Daniel Sanderson is the most comprehensive assessment of its kind and provides parents, probation officers and courts with a detailed written report pertaining to the youth’s psychological, educational, personality and sexual profile. The report also includes specific recommendations for future treatment needs.