The clinical needs of adult firesetters

Theresa A. Gannon, DPhil, CPsychol (Forensic)1

1Professor of Forensic Psychology, Director of the Centre for Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP), University of Kent, UK

To date, there has been very little psychological work conducted examining deliberate firesetting in adults. As a consequence, firesetters have not received specialist treatment to address their firesetting behavior. In this talk, I will focus on some of the work I have recently conducted with co-authors examining the characteristics and treatment needs of firesetters. I will also describe the development of a comprehensive theory of firesetting as well as a standardized treatment programme for firesetters within prisons and mental health settings. I will present an evaluation of this programme which includes the use of an adequate control group of firesetters who did not receive specialist treatment. The implications of this evaluation will be discussed paying particular attention to the possibilities for future provision of firesetting treatment.


Theresa A. Gannon, DPhil, CPsychol (Forensic) is Professor of Forensic Psychology and Director of the Centre for Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP) at the University of Kent, UK. Theresa also works as a Practitioner Consultant Forensic Psychologist specializing in sexual offending and firesetting for the Forensic and Specialist Care Group, Kent and Medway Partnership Trust.

Theresa has published over 100 chapters, articles, books, and other scholarly works in the areas of male and female-perpetrated sexual offending. She is particularly interested in research relating to both the treatment needs and overall supervision of individuals who have sexually offended. This includes offense-related cognition and emotion, rehabilitation models (i.e., the Good Lives Model), offense-process models of offending behavior, polygraph-assisted supervision and truth facilitation, and attitudes towards individuals who have offended. Theresa is lead editor of several books including Sexual Offending: Cognition, Emotion, and Motivation(Wiley-Blackwell) along with Tony Ward, Aggressive Offenders’ Cognition: Theory, Research, and Treatment (John Wiley) along with Tony Ward, Anthony Beech, and Dawn Fisher, and Female Sexual Offenders: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment (Wiley-Blackwell) along with Dr Franca Cortoni. Theresa is also co-editor of several books that discuss or integrate sexual offending with other forensic topics and psychological factors.

Theresa serves on the editorial boards of several journals including Aggression and Violent BehaviorBritish Journal of Forensic Practice, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. Theresa is also Editor of Psychology Crime and Law and Associate Editor of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment.

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