Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Donna Baines




This thesis explored how counselling adolescents who have sexually offended impacted on social workers. Four social workers participated in this qualitative study. Four main areas were examined in this thesis: why work with this population is stressful, how work with adolescent sex offenders impacted on the participants world view, the different way colleagues and significant others perceived this work and the impact this had on the participants' own perception of the value of their work and lastly, strategies used by the participants to remain in the field were highlighted. The results demonstrated that work with this population is stressful due to factors such as the amount of responsibility placed on the participants and the minimizations and rationalizations used by the youth. The findings also displayed that this type of work did impact on the participants' world view, but the impact was not always negative. Although the participants' colleagues and significant others did negatively perceive their work, the participants did not value their work any less. The participants used numerous strategies to remain in the field, however these strategies were informal and the participants saw the need for formal strategies to be accessible through their workplace.

The findings of this thesis demonstrated the need for community collaboration in working with this population as well as education for the community in order to better understand the purpose of counselling adolescent sex offenders. More supports for social workers was also made evident as a means to maintain social workers in this field. Also, the need for increased allocation of resources for the youth was seen as a preventative measure. Other areas for further research were highlighted, such as exploring the experiences of social workers who were involved with the youth from assessment to discharge as well as comparing the male and female social workers perceptions of their work.

McMaster University Library

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Social Work Commons