The Role Of Protective Factors In Best Practices For Preventing Sexual Re-Offense: A Conversation With Sharon Kelley, David Thornton, and Gwenda Willis

Recorded on February 15, 2022

Guest Speakers: Sharon Kelley, David Thornton, and Gwenda Willis

Positive, strengths-based interventions are increasingly popular with clinicians seeking to help individuals who have committed sexual offenses avoid reoffending. Yet assessment tools designed to evaluate risk, identify treatment needs, and assess response to treatment remain focused on the negative: what has gone wrong (static risk factors) and what is going wrong (dynamic risk factors). In mid-2017, Gwenda Willis, David Thornton, Sharon Kelley, and Michel de Vries Robbé embarked on a research program to develop a structured assessment of protective factors against sexual reoffending for use alongside commonly used risk assessment tools.

In this webinar, Gwenda, David, and Sharon talk about the journey leading to the development of the Structured Assessment of Protective Factors against Sexual Offending (SAPROF-SO), Version 1 and why they believe best practices should include consideration of both risk factors and strengths-based, protective factors.

Sharon Kelley
Forensic Psychologist, FAsTR, LLC

Dr. Kelley is employed as a forensic psychologist with the Sand Ridge Evaluation Unit in Madison, Wisconsin. She is also a member of a private practice, FAsTR, LLC. She is currently the chapter president of the Wisconsin Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (WiATSA) as well as the Editor of the ATSA Forum Newsletter. She is a licensed psychologist in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California. Both with her practical work and research projects, she is interested in empirically-based risk assessments, best evaluation practices, and understanding evaluator decision-making. Her recent research projects include the validation of risk assessment tools for those with major mental illness, legal admissibility issues in sexual reoffense risk assessment, estimating long-term and undetected sexual offenses, and the effect of protective factors and treatment change on sexual offense recidivism.

David Thornton
Psychologist, Private Practice

Dr. Thornton is a psychologist in private practice based in Wisconsin. He is licensed to practice as a psychologist in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the U.S., and also in the U.K. He was a research director for Wisconsin’s program for sexually violent persons for three years and previously was the treatment director for that program for over a decade. He has published on evidence-based standards for effective correctional programs and on the importance of therapist style in the provision of treatment designed to reduce sexual recidivism risk, contributing to the development of such scales as the Static-99, Static-2002, Static-99R, Static-2002R, and Risk Matrix 2000. He has been involved in the development of psychological risk assessment, creating the Structured Risk Assessment (SRA) framework, and in ways of understanding and measuring protective factors, being involved in the creation of the SAPROF-SO. David Thornton has published over 90 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Gwenda M. Willis, PhD, PGDipClinPsyc
Clinical Psychologist, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Dr. Willis is an Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and Registered Clinical Psychologist. Her research and clinical interests focus on strengths-based approaches to psychological assessment and treatment in forensic/correctional settings, trauma-informed care and sexual abuse prevention. Dr. Willis provides training and consultation to clinicians internationally, including in the application of the contemporary Good Lives Model of rehabilitation. Dr. Willis has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and her research has been widely cited. Dr. Willis currently holds a Rutherford Discover Fellowship, leading a program of research into protective factors that mitigate risk for sexual recidivism – including the development of the SAPROF-SO with co-authors David Thornton, Sharon Kelley, and Michiel de Vries Robbé.

Comments 3

    1. Post

      Thank you for your interest in our upcoming Safer Talk webinar, Jim!

      Continuing Education credits (CEs) are not offered for the Safer Talk webinars. These conversations are offered as a free resource to individuals interested in the topics. However, if you attend the entire event, Safer Society provide you with a Certificate of Attendance.

      The trainings offered by Safer Society that are eligible for CEs can be found on the following two webpages:

      If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us again!

      Kind regards,

      Sarah Snow Haskell
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