There is a paucity of evidenced-based treatment programs that address problematic sexual behaviour or sexual offending with  clients who have cognitive impairment or intellectual disability. Most of the existing programmes in developed countries (e.g. US, UK, Australia and NZ) are largely adapted ‘watered-down’ versions of ‘mainstream’ programs that are mostly cognitive-behaviourally based. These programs rely heavily on cognitive strategies such as challenging  cognitive distortions that support or condone problematic sexual behaviours. Hence, most of these programs may not be suitable for cognitively impaired individuals with complex presentations of mental health issues, developmental disorder, and personality disorder. There is growing evidence on the use of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) (Sakdalan, Shaw & Collier, 2010) and Good Lives Model (GLM) (Ward, 2002) with individuals with cognitive impairment with challenging/offending behaviours. 

This training workshop will present the development of a more integrated and cohesive group-based treatment program (which can also be used in individual treatment) developed for individuals (adult and adolescents) who are cognitively impaired with complex presentations. This program will utilise a Transtheoretical Model of Change, the use of DBT and GLM reconceptualizations, and a more targeted treatment based on empirically validated risk factors associated with sexual offending. 

DBT largely utilises a behavioural approach to treatment which makes it more appealing and potentially effective given the proven effectiveness of behavioural interventions for this population. Addressing psychological distress with the assistance of DBT based skills is thought to better equip individuals in managing their psychological distress and make relevant behavioural shifts. DBT can also be considered a strength-based model and is consistent with psychoeducational and habilitative practice.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this the training, participants will be able to develop:

  • Knowledge and skills on the use of DBT and GLM reconceptualization’s and skills in working with cognitively impaired individuals with sexual offending or problematic sexual behaviours
  • Introduce a cohesive and integrated program for individuals with sexual offending or problematic sexual behaviours which can be utilized as part of individual and/or group-based treatment
  • Learn skills in providing assessment and treatment to address sexual offending issues or problematic sexual behaviours with cognitively impaired individuals
  • Develop a better understanding of how to assess treatment progress and to use DBT concepts and skills in the development of the client’s risk management plans 

This two-day training workshop is suitable for mental health professionals (e.g. counsellors, psychologists, social worker, occupational therapists, psychiatrists) who work with complex clients (adults and adolescents) with cognitive impairment who exhibit problematic sexual behavior or sexual offending. 

The two-day training workshop costs $550.00. There are limited slots available so please email jaspsychology@icloud.com to register. The training workshop is scheduled on the 10 and 11 October 2019. Venue is near Melbourne CBD, Australia and TBA. Training can be organized locally if there is sufficient interest. 


Dr Joseph Allan Sakdalan

MA, MPH, MD, MScForPsych, PhD CPsych 

Yvonne Maxwell

BAppSc (Psych), GradDipPsych, GCDVioFamPrac

About the Presenters: 

Dr Joseph Allan Sakdalan

Dr Sakdalan is an NZ and AHPRA registered clinical psychologist, counselling psychologist and clinical neuropsychologist who have more than 20-years-experience working with complex clients with mental health issues, cognitive problems, developmental disorders, and offending behaviours. Dr Sakdalan’s involvement was pivotal in the development, implementation and evaluation of offence-specific and offence-related group programs and risk assessment and management systems being implemented by the Forensic Intellectual Disability Service, Mason Clinic in Auckland, New Zealand. He and his colleagues pioneered the development of the adapted DBT coping skills program for forensic clients with intellectual disability (Sakdalan, Shaw & Collier, 2010). In addition, he has developed a suite of offence-related and offence-specific treatment group-based programs (e.g. sexual offending, family violence, general offending, treatment readiness, substance abuse)  for forensic and correctional services locally and internationally. He has run symposiums and training workshops locally and internationally (e.g. Canada, Ireland, Australia, US, UK , Italy, etc.) on these programs. Dr Sakdalan has written book chapters and peer reviewed journal articles. Dr Sakdalan has published journal articles with the Journal of Sexual Aggression entitled “Wise Mind – Risky Mind: A Reconceptualisation of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy concepts and its application to sexual offender treatment” and with the NZ Journal of Psychology on the Implementation of an ID Sex Offender Treatment Program for High Risk Clients.” He has also presented in local and international conferences in his specialty areas. 

Ms Yvonne Maxwell

Ms Maxwell is an AHPRA registered psychologist who currently works with complex clients, within forensic and disability fields. Ms Maxwell has over eight years’ experience working with individuals who have a disability, including as a disability support worker, ABA therapist and psychologist. Ms Maxwell also has more than seven years’ experience of working with individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system, in both welfare and clinical roles. This has included the provision of assessment for treatment needs and individual and group-based intervention to individuals with offending behaviour. Individual intervention has included long-term DBT based intervention for individuals with a disability and offending behaviour. Provision of group-based programs has included sexual and violent offending behaviour programs (CBT and DBT based) for intellectual disabled and non-intellectual disabled offenders.