Group Dynamics in Sex Offender Treatment Involving Individuals with Personality Disorders


Sunah Kim

Date of Award


Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Laura Meyer

First Committee Member

Lynett Henderson Metzger

Second Committee Member

Rick May


Treatment Manual; Qualitative Research; Personality disorders; Sex offenders; Axis II disorders


This qualitative investigation primarily employing a phenomenological perspective and psychoanalytic interview approach intends to provide contextual understanding of group dynamics in sex offender treatment involving individuals with strong features of personality disorders or Axis II psychopathology according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (4 ed., text rev.; DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Of note, this study particularly focuses on the cluster B type (Narcissistic, Borderline, Histrionic, and Antisocial Personality Disorders), based on the assumption that this type is more interpersonally operational in its nature. The present study is based on semi-structured interviews of three clinicians who arecurrently providing group treatment for sex offenders. The interview was designed to elicit the participants' clinical observations of group dynamics involving group members with features of the Axis II, Cluster B type. In this study, 11 therapeutic factors postulated by Yalom (2005) were utilized to qualitatively investigate group dynamics. Analyses of qualitative data highlighted how group members with features of the Axis II, Cluster B type may distinctively affect group dynamics. Based on the results, group members with Axis II diagnoses, as reported bythe therapists who responded to this study, were observed to present with altruistic behaviors in group. In addition, motivation appeared to be one of the most influential factors in promoting and maintaining therapeutic group behaviors. Group members with antisocial features appeared to present with low motivation for treatment, and individualswith a pervasive history of criminal institutionalization seemed more prone to disengagement in group. Individuals with borderline and histrionic traits seemed to be interpersonally oriented and affectively engaged in group process. Persons with a narcissistic tendency also appeared to be interpersonally invested and showed altruistic behaviors, yet the importance of confirming their superiority seemed to outweigh the need for acceptance or approval from other group members. As briefly discussed above, the qualitative analyses of the current data showed that individuals with Axis II disorders, Cluster B type uniquely affect group dynamics, which suggest clinical considerations foreffective treatment planning, maintenance, and outcomes.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


55 pages

Paper Method

Empirical - Qualitative

This document is currently not available here.