A treatment component designed to enhance empathy in sex offenders with an intellectual disability

Amanda M. Michie, William R. Lindsay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper seeks to describe the introduction of a component designed to enhance empathy, to an established cognitive behavioural treatment program for sexual offenders with an intellectual disability. The treatment group received an empathy component and was compared with a control group. Therapeutic efficacy was assessed pre- and post-treatment and at follow-up using the interpersonal reactivity index which assesses fantasy; perspective taking; empathic concern and personal distress experienced due to others' misfortune. There were no significant differences between treatment and control groups at baseline. For the treatment group, significant differences were identified between pre, post and three-month follow-up assessments indicating an increased empathy at post-treatment assessment, the treatment group had significantly improved over the controls. Future research could compare empathy measures and investigate specifically the relationship between what is taught in empathy programs and what is measured by empathy assessments. Difficulties with the study are discussed. The empathy component appears to enhance empathic responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalThe British Journal of Forensic Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • CBT
  • Empathy
  • Group work
  • Intellectual disability
  • Interpersonal reactivity index
  • Sex offenders
  • Sexual behaviour


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