Sexual Offender Detention Alternative (SODA)

About This Program

Target Population: Children age 13-18 who have been referred by the Courts, Probation, Child Protective Services, etc. for sexual offenses

For children/adolescents ages: 13 – 18

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 13 – 18

Program Overview

The SODA Program is a 52-session, weekly group, involving a psycho-educational, cognitive-behavioral and support treatment program for sexual offenders. The program’s focus is to stop unacceptable and illegal sexual behavior problems that bring a child before the Child Welfare Department and/or the Juvenile Justice System. The program’s outpatient group is open-ended and includes a maximum of 8 adolescents, aged 13-17 years old. Caregiver participation is mandatory. Multi-family groups, including the child and the caregiver are held monthly. The caregiver must attend a minimum of 12 multi-family group sessions.

Program elements include understanding the precursors and dynamics of the offense, learning offense relapse-prevention techniques, improving personal and family dynamics, and improving societal and peer relationships. Learning the consequences of their sexual behavior on their victim (empathy and contrition) and on their own family is also stressed. Previous victimization, substance abuse, and co-morbid mood disorders are addressed in detail. The caregivers learn to better communicate with their child and deal more effectively with their own feelings about their child’s offense.

Program Goals

The goals of SODA are:

  • Eliminate problematic (criminal) sexual behavior
  • Improve parent-child interaction and communications
  • Improve coping, self-control of problematic sexual behaviors, and improve social and proper relationship skills
  • Reduce pre-morbid mood disorder symptoms
  • Teach healthy symptom relapse prevention tools

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Sexual Offender Detention Alternative (SODA).

Essential Components

The essential components of SODA include:

  • Educating, observing, and modeling of healthy feedback on skills learned
  • Using a directive and supportive approach in a semi-structured group program with a maximum of 8 adolescents per group
  • Addressing these general program components with adolescents:
    • Program introduction and focus
    • Understanding healthy human sexuality
    • Understanding healthy human emotions (anger management)
    • Understanding sexuality
    • Understanding emotions (anger management)
    • Family dynamics and sexual offenses
    • Social dynamics and sexual offenses
    • Personal dynamics and sexual offenses (co-morbid mood concerns)
    • Learning preventive behaviors
    • Learning protective behaviors
    • Legal ramifications of offense
    • Integration back into society
    • Follow-up help needed
    • Final examination
  • Addressing these general program components with caregivers:
    • Parent education/training to respond to sexual behavior problems
    • Child development/sexual development of children
    • Understanding and support for parents with children who sexually offend
    • Understanding of society’s perception of sexual offenders and coping mechanisms for potential problems
  • Addressing specific child components with adolescents:
    • Open discussion of offense
    • Helping adolescent cope with feelings of guilt and shame
    • Helping adolescent understand pre-morbid mood disorder symptoms and strategies to effectively deal with them
    • Help adolescent develop effective coping and problem-solving skills
    • Teach adolescent socially acceptable emotional/sexual age-appropriate relationships
    • Help adolescent improve self-esteem
    • Relapse prevention by integrating learned tools into daily use

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Sexual Offender Detention Alternative (SODA) directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Legal involvement
  • Sexual acting-out symptoms
  • Mood disorder symptoms
  • Conduct disorder symptoms
  • Substance abuse symptoms (if applicable)
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Monthly multi-family group sessions involving all caregivers and adolescents in the same group.

Parent/Caregiver Services

Sexual Offender Detention Alternative (SODA) directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Personal and familial risk patterns and triggers
  • Dysfunctional family structure including poor marital relationship, absent caregiver, substance abuse in the home
  • Severe guilt feelings by caregivers regarding the child’s offense

Recommended Intensity:

90-minute weekly group sessions for adolescents; 90-minute monthly multi-family group sessions which include the adolescent as well

Recommended Duration:

Each adolescent must attend a minimum of 52 sessions. Each caregiver must attend a minimum of 12 multi-family group sessions. The monthly multi-family group session consists of each child in the group along with a minimum of one parent/caregiver present. If a parent/caregiver misses a multi-family session, the child will have to remain in the program for an additional month until the parent/caregiver can complete the 12 session minimum requirement.

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider


Sexual Offender Detention Alternative (SODA) includes a homework component:

Homework is used to emphasize current topics. Mood charts, behavior charts, and program concepts reviewed.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • A group treatment area
  • A/V for selected topics
  • One licensed therapist and ideally an intern or assistant

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

  • Licensed mental health professional
  • California State Certification as an Independent Practitioner of sexual offender treatment and being an approved sexual offender treatment program by the California Sexual Offender Management Board (CASOMB) for both the SODA Program and the treating therapist (Dr. Petersen); this includes specialized training in California State required assessments by SARATSO (State Authorized Risk Assessment Tools for Sex Offenders) Review Committee
  • Extensive training and experience with an understanding of adolescent sexual abuse treatment

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Practical (hands-on) training of licensed practitioners will be provided at the Glendora office, and during the actual group sessions. Didactic training will be arraigned, as needed and at (to be determined later locations) depending on the number of participants.

Number of days/hours:
  • Intern training for 52 weeks in group
  • Formal training for licensed practitioners = Initial 8-hours of didactic training; four to eight sessions of hands-on training in group
  • Advanced didactic training (4-6 hours) after 6-12 months

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Sexual Offender Detention Alternative (SODA).

Additional References

No reference materials are currently available for Sexual Offender Detention Alternative (SODA).

Contact Information

Thomas Petersen, PhD
Agency/Affiliation: Private Practice
Phone: (626) 278-0677
Fax: (626) 812-5674

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: September 2013

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: February 2017

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: August 2011