Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behaviour therapy for people displaying harmful sexual behaviour typically includes: identifying previous circumstances leading to sexual arousal, accepting responsibility for offensive behaviour, social skills training, empathy and relapse prevention.

Cognitive restructuring therapy

Methods that help people to think differently about a situation, event, thought, or belief.

Common Assessment Framework

Early help assessments, such as the Common Assessment Framework, identify what help the child and family need to prevent their needs escalating to a point where intervention would be needed via a statutory assessment under the Children Act 1989.

Conduct disorder

A serious behavioural problem that can last a long time and can affect a child or young person's ability to lead a normal life. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • aggressive behaviour towards people or animals

  • destructive behaviour towards other people's property

  • lying and stealing

  • playing truant from school.

For older children and adolescents, this can also include smoking, drinking alcohol, substance abuse and engaging in unprotected sexual activities.

Developmental age

A child or young person's social, emotional, physical and intellectual maturity compared with typical behaviours and characteristics for their chronological age.

Early help assessments

Early help assessments identify what help a child and family may need to prevent their needs escalating. They are for children and families who may need targeted support from several agencies.

Guided interventions

Guided interventions offer practitioners a set of key principles on which to base interventions.

Multisystemic therapy

Multisystemic therapy is an intensive community- and home-based approach to a broad set of adolescent problem behaviours, including harmful sexual behaviour. The emphasis is on interventions that target specific, well-defined problems. The aim is to empower carers to address family members' needs.

Neurodevelopmental disorders

Disorders that typically appear early in a child's development, often before they enter school. They are characterised by impairments in personal, social, academic, or occupational functioning. Examples are: learning disability, autism spectrum condition, speech and language disorders and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).


A child who has not yet reached puberty.

Problematic sexual behaviour

Unusual and socially unexpected behaviour. It may not involve victimisation and consent issues may be unclear but it may make others uncomfortable or interfere with the child or young person's healthy psychosexual development.


All organisations that work with or come into contact with children and young people should have safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure that they all, regardless of their age, gender, religion or ethnicity, can be protected from harm.

Satiation therapy

A procedure that involves the pairing of prolonged masturbation (1 hour) with a verbal commentary by the patient of his or her deviant sexual fantasies.

Sexually abusive

A term mainly used to describe sexual behaviours initiated by a child or young person in which there is an element of manipulation or coercion, or the subject of the behaviour is unable to give informed consent.

Strengths-based programmes

Strengths-based programmes are a collaboration between the person and the services supporting them. Programmes consider not only factors that are of concern but build on the person's capabilities and strengths.

Universal services

Universal services are those services provided to all children and young people such as schools, health visiting, GPs.

Youth criminal justice

The youth criminal justice system is for those aged 10 to 17 years: people aged 18 go through the adult criminal justice system.

For other public health and social care terms, see the Think Local, Act Personal's Care and Support Jargon Buster.