VirPed Panel: 14 April 2024

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  • VirPed Panel: 14 April 2024


The below are answers given by selected members of the VirPed forum who are all pedophiles. They are speaking for themselves and not for the organization.

“K” asks:

If you had the opportunity to receive therapy with no risks whatsoever, what qualities would make for the ideal therapist? Additionally, for those who already have a therapist or want one, what would your treatment goals be?

I currently have a therapist, though I didn’t seek her out specifically to work on issues pertaining to child attraction. There was a point a year or so in to our therapy where a voice inside my head told me I could trust her with this, and I did, and she’s been incredibly supportive. The most important attributes a therapist can have is the ability to be completely non-judgemental, extremely empathetic, and have enough introspection to understand when their feelings might be getting in the way of proper therapy, with the motivation to openly discuss this with their client.

Though I have goals not at all related to pedophilia, as it pertains to pedophilic related ones, the most helpful to me is the open ear to honestly talk about any feelings that might come up in the future toward a child I might become close to. I’m not worried about offending, but it’s very hard to have feelings you can’t talk about with anyone in real life. It’s more of a relational type therapy, I feel, than an ’end goal’ related one, even though I am making a lot of progress in regards to other goals. Given that I don’t feel comfortable talking about this topic with anyone else, I feel as though this is likely to be a permanently ongoing relationship.

I’ve never felt the need for therapy, personally. I figured that I know myself better than a therapist would. The biggest and scariest issue for the average MAP in seeking therapeutic assistance, is interpretation of mandatory reporting. Jurisdictions are different as are rules that govern that interpretation. But different therapists interpret the rules differently. So many MAPs feel that they can’t take the risk of getting reported for disclosing they’re attracted to children or have looked at questionable images. Fortunately there are organizations like ASAP and B4U-ACT that attempt to vet therapists. But there is still a certain caveat emptor involved.

Preferably a therapist is familiar with counselling MAPs and understands the issues that can cause difficulty coping. And of course, a therapist and a client/patient need to be clear about what could trigger a report and what would not.

When the question says “no risks whatsoever” I assume that refers to risks of being reported. Beyond that the main thing would be for a therapist to understand that pedophilia is a condition like many others that can make life difficult, but that it does not pose special risks – any more than, say, being angry at your boss or ex-spouse. It would really help if therapist training included familiarity with non-offending pedophiles. It would really help if the therapist was not struggling mightily to control their emotional reaction to pedophilia, a struggle that would likely reveal itself through body language.

There may be an obstacle to therapist awareness of pedophilia as just another challenging life condition. Since at present pedophiles are very reluctant to reveal the attraction, the ones that do will tend to either feel an extraordinary amount of distress about it, or lack the social awareness to realize that disclosing it is dangerous to do – both of which could mean the person in fact does pose more of a risk than with other conditions. I don’t know how strong that tendency would be. Within the profession, increasing therapist comfort and client comfort would over time mean that more clients who pose little risk will reveal their attraction.

I already have a therapist to whom I am open about being a pedophile. It was an uphill battle at first to convince her that I was not a risk to children, because her first question when I brought up the fact that I’m a pedophile was “How do you control your urges?” I gave her a point-by-point explanation as to why that’s not an ideal question to ask and educated her about being anti-contact and non-offending. Since then, it’s been great. I can bring it up whenever I want.

My treatment goals related to pedophilia surround my pedophilic disorder and harm OCD. Being able to be around children without feeling like I’m a monster and a creep, mostly through exposure therapy.

I think an ideal therapist for me would mostly just need to not be freaked out about my attractions and have some understanding of the subject. For me I mostly don’t need or want therapy for the attraction itself, more the side effects. I’d like helping learning to cope with the fact I can never have relationships with the type of person I love most, or that I can likely never have 100% satisfying sex. I often get extremely depressed about that or wonder what the point of life is if I will likely never fully get the chance to be happy in the way other can be.

I have been fortunate to have therapy with both a therapist to whom I didn’t disclose and a map-aware one where I could talk about everything.

With the first one I went all through my past and talked about my other paraphilias but not pedophilia (although I think she had guessed it by the end).

We dealt with a lot even without discussing pedophilia, but mainly it was useful for exploring the possibilities for my future: how best to navigate my choice between dying, leaving my relationship, staying where I was, moving away and so on. It laid the groundwork for big decisions.

The biggest insight I ever got from her (I think I’ve mentioned this before) was when she said that I needed to forgive myself. I said “how do I do that?” and she said “I don’t know. There’s no silver bullet.” That was super-wise and she said it at a time when I was prepared to hear it instead of insisting that there must be some secret method or pill offered by some other therapist out there that I could use to fix myself.

With the next therapist, who actually advertised that he would work no judgementally with minor attraction, I got support and advice as I made big changes in my life so I could live with less guilt (i.e. fewer secrets) as a pedophile. He wasn’t afraid to challenge me, but only on the ethics of my interactions with others, never my private thoughts.

Both therapists were good at

(a) letting me talk.

(b) providing a calm space to explore what possible future situations would involve, rather than just getting emotional about the catastrophic possibilities - this is very important for MAPs who fear engaging with the implications of their attraction.

(c) not defining an end-goal for therapy that involved a change in my sexual attractions, accepting that there is no known silver bullet for that either.

The most negative stories I have heard about maps and therapists seem to involve an early struggle between therapist and client about the conditions under which the therapist might report or withdraw therapy. These don’t necessarily centre around illegal behaviour by the client, but could include:

  1. the therapist withdrawing therapy if the client begins to work or volunteer with kids
  2. the therapist insisting that a goal of therapy must be the cessation by the client of fantasies.

I’ve also heard of therapists from map-aimed prevention organisations withdrawing therapy from clients because they don’t present sufficient risk of offending.

Therapists have their own standards and objectives, but in these circumstances the potential therapeutic relationship is undermined from early on, unconditional positive regard is withdrawn and the client (who hasn’t actually done anything wrong) is left with one more failed attempt to reach out for support, and a reluctance to spend money on trying again.

The no risks part is important. It is hard to do any therapy without a safe space. I would want an open minded person who could see me as more than my sexuality and help me develop more self-compassion.

I am one of the lucky ones and have such a therapist.

I’ve personally had the pleasure of working with a therapist for multiple years on different aspects of my mental health, far from all of which are related to being a pedophile.

Leaving aside the no-risk part (which is very likely the #1 hurdle for seeking therapy for anyone with an attraction to minors), its important that your therapist really understands what pedophilia is (hint: its a sexual orientation), and what is and what isn’t a realistic or healthy goal for the pedophile in therapy.

Other than that, focus on what your patient needs to improve their quality of life and mental health. Its not all about pedophilia. A pedophile seeking therapy might very well have other things to talk about and work with that are unrelated to their attractions.

I’ve never had therapy, partly because I have always been nervous about mandatory reporting laws. Many therapists are required to report if they believe that there is a risk of child abuse, and if I disclose my attractions, will they perceive that as a risk? Will they assume that, because of my attractions, I will go on to abuse a child, and report me? Mandatory reporting is a massive roadblock for pedophiles seeking therapy so we need to ensure that safe, confidential therapy is accessible if we want it to be effective. I also think it’s important for the therapist to be educated about pedophilia, to understand that pedophilia can’t be cured and to not force any conversion therapy onto us. Any time a pedophile has talked about trying to change their attractions, it’s never been a pleasant experience. Conversion therapy never worked for any other sexual orientation, so why should it work on us?

I think it’s important for the therapist to be aware that anti-contact pedophiles exist, that we have never abused children and have no intention to. Some of us might be at risk of offending, but many of us are not, and basing the therapy program on the assumption that we’re a threat to children will not be effective for most of us. Many of us need therapy not because we are a risk to children, but because we need to improve our mental health, learn how to deal with the stigma and loneliness etc. Additionally, the therapist should understand that fantasizing about children and using outlets that don’t involve the abuse of real children (such as stories) do not make us more of a risk to children, and that these are safe ways for many of us to deal with our attractions. On top of everything else, showing kindness, empathy and a genuine interest in our own well-being are vital qualities that a therapist should have. Not being treated like a ticking time bomb and instead being treated like a valid human with feelings that do not dictate our morality, and understanding that we don’t need to be kept away from kids as pedophilia is not correlated with impulse control, are also important aspects of what good therapy looks like for pedophiles.

Though I’m not currently in therapy, I came out to my previous therapist as a pedophile and have helped several other pedophiles get therapy without risking their safety. My biggest takeaway from all of these experiences is that the best therapists are the ones who prioritize the client’s goals. Yes, a few pedophiles need help setting boundaries to keep themselves and others safe. Many deal with moderate or severe mental health problems caused by constant negativity, self-hatred, and fear due to societal stigma. But for a lot of us, it exists within the broader concept of a fairly normal life, which comes with various hardships, trials, and traumas, even for non-pedophiles. The best therapists are the ones who let us tell them what the most pressing issues in our lives are and then work with us to address those in a way that supports our treatment goals.

I am fortunate enough to live in a country where a therapy programme for non-offending pedophiles exist. I attented therapy for about a year. When I first contacted them, I had no goals, no idea of what I was getting myself into. I just saw an opportunity to talk about my pedophilia with someone who presumably wouldn’t hate me. I was so very nervous the first time I was going to meet her face to face. It went fine though. She was kind, knowledgable, open, reflected and curious. Together we created goals that included, but not limited to:

  1. Realizing potential inappropriate behaviour and finding ways to stop or change that
  2. Realizing logical fallacies
  3. Lessening and in the end completely removing the shame related to having sexual fantasies about children
  4. Lessening and in the end completely removing the shame related to using legal sexual outlets involving children like erotica and shota.

This all laid a very solid groundwork for the content pedophile I am today. However, the bigges praise goes towards VirPed. Finding peer-support, and friends with the same experiences and struggles is what helped me the most in the end. I think the order of getting professional help first and then finding VirPed was the best one for me.

My therapist did have one quality that is to me very negative though. She was very prejudiced against pedophiles willingly working with kids, which I do. I tried to explain that I have never felt like any danger to them and the job makes me so happy, and that I am really good at it. She wouldn’t budge though, comparing pedophiles working with kids to that of an overweight diabetic going into a candy store. I think that attitude is not good to have when you’re a therapist working with MAPs. If I had told her I was worried about my behaviour, that would’ve been a different story. It is this that in the end made me cut ties with the therapy programme, after finding VirPed.

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