Therapy for MAPs

Information and resources related to professional support for MAPs

If you have any questions about a therapist's views on MAPs, approach to treatment, or mandatory reporting requirements, you can always reach out anonymously and ask them.

About Therapy

Benefits of therapy

Effective therapy can reduce or eliminate the following issues, which are often experienced by minor-attracted people:

  • Feelings of shame

  • Self-hatred

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Behavioral concerns

  • Suicidal thoughts

It is important to note that therapy cannot "cure" pedophilia or any other attractions.

Risks to seeking therapy

Due to a lack of training, most therapists wrongly believe that mandatory reporting laws require them to report all MAPs to law enforcement, resulting in investigations that can cause MAPs to be outed to friends and loved ones. Some therapists may even try to change or eliminate clients' attractions using harmful (and ineffective) techniques like conversion therapy, leading to more mental health issues. However, with appropriate precautions, as described lower on this page, these risks can be mitigated.

When to consider therapy

The decision to seek therapy is a personal choice for everyone, including MAPs. If you are experiencing distress due to your attractions or the stigma surrounding them, you may want to consider therapy. However, therapy is not the only form of support for MAPs, so you should also consider other options and select whatever you feel would be best for you.

You can learn more about therapy for MAPs here, and mental health professionals can learn about supporting MAPs here.

Staying Safe

Determining whether a therapist is capable of helping you address mental health concerns related to an attraction to minors can feel overwhelming. The tips and suggestions below can help you decide whether a specific therapist is a good fit for you and your unique mental health needs. Remember to prioritize your safety wherever necessary.

Know What You Want

Before you can determine whether a therapist is right for you, it is important to know how to identify a qualified therapist.

Signs of a Qualified Therapist

Most MAPs will benefit from a therapist with these traits. Depending on your reasons for seeking therapy, you may seek additional traits.

  • Experience working with MAPs and clients with sexual health issues

  • Experience working with both victims and perpetrators of (child) sexual abuse

  • Understanding that MAPs are not inherently a danger to children

  • Commitment to only report clients under mandatory reporting laws when absolutely necessary

  • Awareness of and willingness to discuss personal experiences that may lead to a biased perception of MAPs

  • Assumption that any given MAP is non-offending unless informed otherwise

  • Focus on treating the negative impacts of societal stigma and any other issues you would like to address

  • Understanding that the goal of therapy for MAPs should be self-acceptance and coping strategies

  • Ability to differentiate between common stereotypes and facts about MAPs

  • Willingness to seek additional training in order to better support MAP clients

Signs of an Unqualified Therapist

If your therapist demonstrates one or more of the following, consider finding a different therapist.

  • Belief that all child abusers are pedophiles and/or all pedophiles are child abusers

  • Belief that MAPs inherently pose a danger to children just by being attracted to them

  • Assumption that most or all MAPs have urges to abuse or otherwise harm children

  • Belief that a MAP being around children is inherently a dangerous situation

  • Use of discriminatory or stigmatizing language when discussing MAPs and/or attractions to minors

  • Belief that rape and other forms of sexual assault are caused by attraction

  • Inability to accept that many MAPs are non-offending and do not wish to harm children

  • Belief that most or all MAPs require professional support to refrain from harming children

  • Willingness to report MAPs under mandatory reporting laws without evidence of ongoing abuse or an intent to abuse

  • Belief that pedophilia is still classified as a mental disorder

  • Belief that having an attraction to minors necessitates therapy

  • Intention of changing or eliminating attractions

  • Opposition to the existence of peer support groups for MAPs

  • Belief that minor MAPs do not exist

Ask For Help

If you're in contact with other MAPs, whether directly or via a support group, it can be helpful to ask about others' experiences.

If You Have a Therapist in Mind

If you can do so without revealing too much personal information, ask if anyone has interacted with that therapist. If so, reach out to that person individually and ask about their experience. If not, ask whether anyone who has experience searching for therapists would be willing to help you determine whether that therapist is a good fit for your needs.

If You're Looking For a Therapist

Ask if anyone has either sought therapy in your general area before or has contacts that can help you find a qualified therapist. If you're worried about revealing too much personal information, reach out to a smaller group of individuals you know and trust.

Ask Questions

One way to ensure a therapist is able to provide the care you need is to reach out anonymously as a prospective client with questions.

Questions for a Potential Therapist

This list is just a starting point, and you should consider asking additional questions based on your specific needs as a client.

  1. What are your credentials?

  2. What kind of issues do you treat?

  3. Do you have experience treating sexual health issues?

  4. Would you consider your treatment approach to be sex-positive?

  5. Have you treated victims of child sexual abuse?

  6. Have you treated people who had previously committed sexual offenses against children?

  7. Under what conditions would mandatory reporting laws require you to report a client who is attracted to minors?

  8. Do you have experience working with minor-attracted people?

  9. Have you had any experiences in your life that could impact your ability to work with minor-attracted people?

  10. What conditions would you expect a minor-attracted person to abide by in order to receive treatment?

  11. What methods would you use to treat a minor-attracted person?

  12. What would you consider the goal of treatment for a minor-attracted person?

  13. How would your interactions with a current client change if they told you they were sexually attracted to minors?

Adapted from similar lists by B4U-ACT and The Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Find a Therapist

There are several organizations that help MAPs find safe and effective professional support. Our Find a Therapist page contains a regularly-updated list of these organizations sorted by country, along with information on how to access the services they provide. Note that some resources may have limited availability or an associated cost.

Affording Therapy

Prostasia Foundation

Fill out their Application for Financial Support