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Sexual behavior problems are life dominating and have the potential to interfere with the daily functioning of a person. They can take various shapes and forms. They range from pornographic addictions and fascinations to excessive masturbation, paraphilias, sexual addictions, the practice of illegal and prohibited sexual activities and visiting prostitutes among other things. Sexual behavior problems affect the social, psychological, physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing of the individual who is involved in practicing them (Borduin, Henggeler, Blaske & Stein 1999, p. 106-108).
The initial onset of sexual behavior among adolescents is almost always considered as a function of gender, cohort and ethnic differences. Considerations should however be made in the study of adolescent sexual behavior since there are social, biological and cognitive processes that affect the sexual behavior of individuals. According to Borduin, Henggeler, Blaske & Stein (1999, p. 106-108), demographic factors and programs that have been erected to alter sexual behavior should also be analyzed if a conclusive result on the adolescent sexual behavior is to be understood in depth. Sexual behavior problems among the adolescent population start at an earlier age in most cases. The causes include but are not limited to sexual abuse and assault at a tender age, exposure to violence at home, excessive exposure to adult sexual activity or nudity at home (these include television, electronic media and books that contain R- and X- rated materials), inadequate home supervision that may be as a result of laxity on the parents side or involvement in dug use. Causes may also be as a result of rules on modesty at home and association with company that are involved in sexual behavior (Lent & Brown, 2008).
According to Atkinson & Juntunen (2002), an adolescent with sexual behavior problems may not be easy to tell from face value unless the affected adolescents open up to an elderly person or when the adolescent begins to show advanced levels of social withdrawal. There are several treatment avenues that can be sought. Professional help, majorly social and psychosocial counseling have been carried out to provide therapy to adolescents who have fallen prey to such problems.
Linda Chassman, Jeffrey Kottler and Jeanne Madison in their research article entitled an exploration of counselor experiences of adolescents with sexual behavior problems in the Journal of Counseling and Development published in summer of 2010 volume 88 pages 269 – 276 report that working with sex offenders is the most challenging task of a counselor. In their view, little has been researched or even written in the impact that counseling sex offenders has on the counselors who do the job over a long period of time.
Thesis Statement: There are professional challenges that emerge when counselors immerse in their clients’ sexual frames and these have implications on the professional practice of the counselors who undergo such occurrences.
There are two major approaches that are used in treating and /or reducing children and by far adolescent behavior (Borduin, Henggeler, Blaske & Stein, 1999). These are the dynamic play therapy and the cognitive- behavioral therapy both of which are used in treatment of sexual behavior problems. Both methods are counseling oriented and needs the corporation of the parent(s), the adolescent and the counselor (Lent & Brown, 2008). Where timely treatment for inappropriate sexual behavior is not sought, the adolescent are at high risk of becoming a sexual offender especially if the misbehavior is accompanied with a history of sexual abuse. Psychotherapists have the responsibility of learning the adolescent patient with inappropriate sexual behavior and administering treatment and therapy. Atkinson & Juntunen (2002) argue that it is not always an easy job especially owing to the psychological and emotional trauma that accompanies sexual offenses. Some victims may feel sorry or perhaps dirty/guilty to themselves, while others may show no remorse at all for such behaviors. The extent of reaction to these behaviors are directly dependent on the adolescents point of view on the said misconduct, and the results that are achieved by the therapists are a direct result of the corporation of the adolescent in the solution seeking endeavor. Behavior problems may be exhibited in the form of aggression, intrusion and general inappropriate behavior (Borduin, Henggeler, Blaske & Stein, 1999).
Ethical Aspects of the Study
Research ethics deal primarily with the interaction that exists between researchers and the people being studied (Rubin, 2008). Professional ethics in research deals with issues like collaborative relationships among the researchers, intellectual property, plagiarism, mentoring relationships and fabrication of data among other things. Professional ethics are important for research practice since they form the basis on which important decisions are made. They set the standards that explicitly consider the concerns, needs and wellbeing of the research populations such that trust is established between study participants and researchers.
Based on the Belmont report, there are three principles that form the universally acceptable basis for ethics in research. Family Health International (FHI) states that these include respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. Beneficence requires the commitment of the researchers in minimizing risks including social and psychological risks while maximizing the e benefits that accrue to research participants. Researchers must ensure that beneficence is achieved. Respect for persons on the other hand requires commitment to respecting the autonomy of the research participants and avoidance of exploitation of the vulnerable people. The researcher must respect the dignity and stand of the participants. In addition, the researcher must be sure to ensure fair distribution of risks and benefits that result from research. Those who are asked to participate in the research should be those who are bound to benefit from the exercise. There are however other bioethical practices that are not stipulated in the Belmont report but are binding in research practice (FHI). Bioethicists have argued that there is need for respect for the communities in which the research exercise ought to take place.
The researchers do not provide proof of approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB), which is charged with reviewing the authenticity of a social and behavioral research process and the ethics thereof. The IRB is also charged with approving any research process that is social and/or behavioral in nature. Additionally, there are no proven records of informed consent on the part of the participants. An informed consent is a piece of paper that provides the details of what a research process is about in writing. The form is approved by the ethics committee and should consider such factors as risks and benefits that are associated with the research process, legalistic language used in the paper and should be signed by the researcher, the participant and sometimes a witness (Rubin, 2008). They are used to ensure minimal risk for the participants in the research. Informed consent need not be written, it can be oral most commonly called waiving of documentation of informed consent. Where oral consents are used, the researcher should be sure to keep records of the participants without faltering.
The methods used in choosing the participants are not properly documented. However, it is presumable that purposive sampling was done. This is because the criteria used in the selection process were done by choosing participants who have directly dealt with adolescents with sexual behavior problems. They were chosen on the basis of gender, years of experience, setting (hospitals, home based care and school settings among others). Nevertheless, the professionalism of the participants and the authenticity of research results remain in question as long as the research process though social in nature did not have approval from IRB. It occurs to me that the participants did not get a conclusive explanation on the terms of participation in the research process, how confidentiality would be handled and the risks that accompanied the participation in the research process. It is hence unethical to continue with the research process, which can be viewed as being a result of coercion and lies on the participants in the research process. This being a social and behavioral research needed debriefing of participants so they that they would have conclusive information on what they can do when they feel their privacy has been invaded and how they can prevent such occurrences in their settings (FHI).
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study
The strengths of the research process were in the correctness of sampling, correctness of the research methods used and the research type used. This being a research that endeavored to find the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of challenges in professional practice of counseling adolescents with sexual behavior problems, qualitative research was appropriate. The use of in depth interviews which were majorly recursive in nature ensured that the participants gave in depth answers for clearly understood questions which they were asked. In addition, purposive sampling was appropriate for this social and behavioral research. The use of the grounded theory in the analysis of the data was also appropriate.
The study was however not without limitations. The authors had a thesis statement of wanting to know the challenges those counselors who handle adolescents with sexual behavior problems. In the analysis of the research results and the conclusion however, they do not give a conclusive report of any possible solutions that they got. In addition, they seem to address other issues that were not the spot on problems that they intended to address. Sexual arousal as discussed in the research journal is considered a natural process which is also a taboo. However, the predisposing factors apart from involvement with victims of sexual misbehavior among the youth are not conclusively discussed. There are participants who themselves have been abused or have been abusers (sexual offenders) and are hence bound to make biased decisions based on individual feelings and/or experiences and not necessarily professional practice.
The use of all and sundry who are involved in dealing with adolescents with sexual behavior problems is questionable (Rubin, 2008). This is it cannot be proven from the research paper the integrity of these participants in the profession. Some may be clinicians who have provided nursing care to victims of forced and/or illegal sexual activities. The credibility of the research sample and the constitution is hence eyebrow raising, especially given that it cannot be proven that all the participants have dealt with psychotherapy on a one on one basis with the adolescents affected. Although the authors of the research article admit to the limitations of the findings, they do not give conclusive impacts of the results in professional counseling practice.
Research Design, Methodology, Data Collection and Analysis
A research design is the structure of the research and may be referred to as the glue that holds research elements together (FHI). The elements include observations or measures, treatments or programs, groups and time. The research involved observation of multi part survey that lasted unspecified period of time (until participant saturation was attained). Qualitative method was used in researching the relationship between counselors and adolescents with sexual behavior problems and the impacts that this has on the counselors. Methods used for data collection were in-depth interviews to investigate the social phenomena of sexual behavior among the adolescents and the impact on counselors who handled them. Counselors were chosen to provide information on their years of experience, culture, theoretical and practice orientation, gender, type of treatment setting and the source of referral.
Counselors were chosen from different settings of practice which was fair for equity and fair distribution of knowledge; this would an all round approach to finding solutions to the problem, impacts of continuous counseling of sex offenders on the counseling practitioners. However, the introduction of participants on an ongoing project would result in biases of the final result of the research as well as variances in data analysis (Rubin, 2008). For purposes of control, the participants should all be engaged at the same time during the start of the project to check on variability in data analysis and results. It is against the practice of social and behavioral research to introduce new research categories after 42 hours of interview with the initial group (sample).
The research paper is not empirical in providing evidence of the clinicians’ reactions to client sexual orientations and deviant behavior. Although the paper comes up with four themes of professional challenges of counseling adolescents with sexual behavior problems, there is lack of proven evidence on the frequency of the same. In addition, the questionnaires that were given to the practitioners did not give a conclusive report on the actual reactions of both the adolescent and the practitioner in the counseling room. The researchers in this paper do not provide the control for the research so that they can authoritatively report on what setting would promote/ elicit specific reactions. In my view, the professional should be able to form a rapport with the client (adolescent), explaining what is expected of the client and what the client may do in case he/ she feel uncomfortable with saying or doing.
Counseling being a cognitive process that is affected by the environment should ensure that the environment promotes concentration on the topic being discussed (Rubin, 2008). Just in a classroom situation where the conditions must be conducive for learning, the counselor must ensure that he/she talks to the client when the adolescent is not emotional upset. The practitioner should also have a thorough analysis of the cognitivity of the adolescent, the environment under which the adolescent has grown from childhood, the friend with whim he/she hangs out, and what the client does at free time among other things. The knowledge of the stated information will help establish the predisposing factors to behavior and what would be ser as a control apart from the psychotherapeutic sessions. Counseling alone is not effective in causing change in the attitudes and behavior of adolescents who exhibit malformed and/or irresponsible behavior (Rubin, 2008). Even if counseling was done without establishing the underlying factors, the results would prove counterproductive in the long run. The assessment and treatment of sexual disorders should take the bottom up approach where the practitioner, after a long period of continuous therapy gives the adolescent the chance to state the solution that he/she think are workable in his/her scenario.
The paper explored on the reaction of counselors to sexual information from sexually misbehaved adolescents. There are individual predispositions and beliefs that go a long way in determining the effectiveness of the counseling process. The research method was the best for this study and the tools applied appropriate. However, the results (data analysis) and the conclusion did not effectively address the research question.
In conclusion, there are psychological and emotional impacts on the counselors that deal with adolescents. There are professional challenges that emerge when counselors immerse in their clients’ sexual frames and these have implications on the professional practice of the counselors who undergo such occurrences. If these are not addressed, counselors’ professionalism will be jeopardized and their professional ethics questioned. Provisions should hence be made for practitioners on the options they have in dealing with adolescents in these field whether applied during training and/practice.