A Behavioral Perspective of Adolescent Problem Sexual Behaviors in Residential Treatment Centers

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Michael Karson

First Committee Member

Shelly Smith-Acuna

Second Committee Member

Melissa Henston


In a setting that we hope will turn children and adolescents into functional adults, it is important to understand sexual behaviors so that healthy sexuality and sexual behaviors can be developed. This paper proposes that understanding sexual behaviors through a behavioral perspective will allow for clearer treatment and healthier, generalizable development for adolescents in residential treatment centers (RTCs).

The goal of RTCs is to provide appropriate containment, support, structure, involvement, and validation for the residents, such that residents are safe and working toward stable mental health. The ultimate goal has long been to "promote and facilitate 'positive' changes in specified directions" (Gunderson, 1978, p. 332). One ofthe primary functions of an RTC, from conception, was to provide an environment in which children and adolescents can practice navigating social circumstances that are similar to their world outside the treatment facilities and manage their anxieties, depressions, or aggressions (Leichtman, 2006).


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


36 pages

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