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Terminology used by professionals in any field can be difficult to understand. Furthermore, there are often multiple terms used for similar subjects within a given discipline. These terminologies reflect conventionally accepted language in the domain of Clinical and Forensic Psychology.  

Risk Assessment: A risk assessment considers the nature, extent, and seriousness of an offender’s sexually abusive behaviour; the degree of threat the offender presents to the community or victim; and the general dangerousness of the offender in any particular setting. It determines specifically and in detail the appropriate setting, the intensity of intervention, and the level of supervision needed by a particular sex offender. A risk assessment is required prior to admission to any program for sex offenders, and is conducted on an ongoing basis after admission.

Treatment Planning Assessment: The purpose of a treatment planning assessment is to identify specific problem areas, strengths and weaknesses, skills, knowledge, and the precedents and antecedents of the sexually abusive behaviour. The assessment includes consideration of thinking, affect, and behaviour, organicity of behavioural and cognitive issues, psychiatric disorders, addictions, and family functioning.

Actuarial Risk Assessment: A risk assessment based upon risk factors which have been researched and demonstrated to be statistically significant in the prediction of re-offense or dangerousness.

Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG): A risk assessment tool designed to assess sexual and nonsexual violence re-offense risk among adult male offenders. This tool has twelve items scored by clinical staff using a weighted scoring key.

The Sexual Offense Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG) - A variation of the earlier”Violence Risk Appraisal Guide” (VRAG), the SORAG is a relatively complicated 14-item scale.

STATIC -99- The Static-99 is a ten item actuarial assessment instrument created by R. Karl Hanson, Ph.D. and David Thornton for use with adult male sexual offenders who are at least 18 year of age at time of release to the community.

Sex History Questionnaire-SHQ-R-: Clarke Sex History Questionnaire for Males-Revised (SHQ-R) is a very comprehensive and most widely used instrument in sex offender assessments. It examines a wide range of conventional and deviant sexual behaviours, from common sexual disorders and dysfunctions to sexual abuse and assault. It also has a validity scale to help ensure the accuracy of the responses. This is created by Dr. Ron Langevin & Dr. Dan Patich.

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) was developed in the late 1930’s by psychologist Starke R. Hathaway and psychiatrist J.C. McKinley at the University of Minnesota. Today, it is the frequently used clinical testing instrument and is one of the most researched psychological tests in existence

Long Term Offender/Dangerous offender- If the offender has been convicted of a ‘serious personal injury’ offence and the judge is convinced by evidence of violent previous conduct, psychiatric testimony and other evidence that the individual is likely to engage in further violent conduct, the judge may make the dangerous offender finding and sentence the offender to either an indeterminate term in a penitentiary, a determinate sentence followed by a long-term supervision order or a determinate sentence.

Psychosexual Evaluation: A comprehensive evaluation of an alleged or convicted sex offender to determine the risk of recidivism, dangerousness, and necessary treatment. A psychosexual evaluation usually includes psychological testing and detailed history taking with a focus on criminal, sexual, and family history. The evaluation may also include a phallometric assessment.

Child Pornography: Any audio, visual, or written material that depicts children engaging in sexual activities or behaviors, or images that emphasize genitalia and suggest sexual interest or availability.

Cognitive Distortion (CD): A thinking error or irrational thought that sex offenders use to justify their behaviour or to allow themselves to experience abusive emotions without attempting to change them. Cognitive distortions are ways sex offenders go about making excuses for justifying and minimizing their sexually abusive behaviour. In essence, these are self-generated excuses for taking part in one's relapse patterns. These thoughts distort reality.

Deviant Arousal: The sexual arousal to paraphilic behaviours. Deviant arousal is a sex offender’s pattern of being sexually aroused to deviant sexual themes. Not all sex offenders have deviant arousal patterns. The most common method of assessing deviant arousal is through phallometric assessment conducted by a trained and qualified sexual abuse treatment specialist.

Incest: Sexual relations between close relatives, such as father and daughter, mother and son, sister and brother. This also includes other relatives, step children, and children of common-law marriages.

Level of Risk: The degree of dangerousness a sex offender is believed to pose to potential victims or the community at large. The likelihood or potential for a sex offender to re-offend is determined by a professional who is trained or qualified to assess sex offender risk.

Megan’s Law: The first amendment to the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offenders Act. This was passed in October 1996 and requires states to allow public access to information about sex offenders in the community. This federal mandate was named after Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old girl who was raped and murdered by a twice-convicted child molester in her New Jersey neighbourhood.

Recidivism: Commission of a crime after the individual has been criminally adjudicated for a previous crime; re-offense. In the broadest context, recidivism refers to the multiple occurrences of any of the following key events in the overall criminal justice process: commission of a crime whether or not followed by arrest, charge, conviction, sentencing, or incarceration.

Orgasmic Reconditioning: A behavioural technique designed to reduce inappropriate sexual arousal by having the client masturbate to deviant sexual fantasies until the moment of ejaculation, at which time the deviant sexual theme is switched to a more appropriate sexual fantasy.

Sexual Deviancy: Sexual thoughts or behaviours that are considered abnormal, atypical or unusual. These can include non-criminal sexual thoughts and activities such as transvestitism (cross-dressing) or criminal behaviours, such as pedophilia.

Paraphilia: A psychosexual disorder. Recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, urges, and/or thoughts that usually involve humans, but may also include non-human objects. Suffering of one’s self or partner, children, or non-consenting persons is common. A deviation in normal sexual interests and behavior that may include:
Bestiality (Zoophilia): Sexual interest or arousal to animals.
Coprophilia: Sexual interest or arousal to feces.
Exhibitionism: Exposing one’s genitalia to others for purposes of sexual arousal.
Frotteurism: Touching or rubbing against a non-consenting person.
Fetishism: Use of nonliving objects (e.g., shoes, undergarments, etc.) for sexual arousal that often involves masturbation.
Hebophilia: Sexual interest in, or arousal to, teens/post-pubescent children.
Klismophilia: Sexual arousal from enemas.
Necrophilia: Sexual interest in, or arousal to, corpses.

Pedophilia:The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria for pedophilia are as follows:

1. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a pre-pubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger);
2. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning; and
3. The person is at least 16 years old and at least 5 years older than the child or children in the first criterion (this does not include an individual in late adolescence who is involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12 or 13 year old).
There are several typologies of pedophiles, including:
Fixated Pedophile: An individual who is sexually attracted to children and lacks psychosexual maturity.
Regressed Pedophile: Most commonly describes a sex offender who has a primary adult sexual orientation but under stress engages in sexual activities with underage persons.

Sexual Masochism: Sexual arousal/excitement from being humiliated, beaten, bound, or made to suffer.
Sexual Sadism: Sexual arousal/excitement from psychological or physical suffering of another.
Telephone Scatologia: Engaging in uninvited, sexually explicit talk with another person via the telephone.
This is often referred to as “obscene phone calling.”
Transsexual: A person who has undergone a surgical sexual/gender change.
Transvestic Fetishism: The wearing of clothing articles and especially undergarments for persons of the opposite sex. This is often referred to as “cross dressing.”
Voyeurism: Observing unsuspecting individuals, usually strangers, who are naked, in the act of dressing or undressing, or engaging in sexual activities.

Parole: A method of prisoner release on the basis of individual response and progress within the correction institution, providing the necessary controls and guidance while serving the remainder of their sentences within the free community.

Presentence Investigation Report (PSR): A court ordered report prepared by a supervision officer. This report includes information about an offender’s index offense, criminal record, family and personal history, employment and financial history, substance abuse history, and prior periods of community supervision or incarceration. At the conclusion of the report, the officer assesses the information and often makes a dispositional recommendation to the court.

Psychopath: A disorder characterized by many of the following: glibness and superficial charm; grandiosity; excessive need for stimulation/proneness for boredom; pathological lying; cunning and manipulative; lack of remorse or guilt; shallow affect; parasitic lifestyle; poor behaviour controls; promiscuous sexual behaviour and many short-term relationships; early behavioural problems; lack of realistic, long-term goals; impulsivity; irresponsibility; history of juvenile delinquency; likelihood of revocation on conditional release; and criminal versatility.

Psychopathy Checklist—Revised PCL –R: The clinical instrument to assess the degree to which an individual has characteristics of psychopathy. It is a 20-item instrument that is scored by the evaluator based on collateral information and typically an interview of the offender (Hare, 1991).

Restorative Justice: Focuses on the repair of the harm to the victim and the community, as well as the improvement of pro-social competencies of the offender, as a result of a damaging act.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): A class of antidepressant drugs, sometimes used in the treatment of sex offenders that includes fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine, paroxetine and sertraline. SSRIs are mood stabilizers that can cause sexual dysfunction.

Sex Offender: The term most commonly used to define an individual who has been charged and convicted of illegal sexual behaviour.

Victim-Stancing: The behaviour of an individual who has been the perpetrator of victimization inaccurately portraying the real victim.

Impaired Driving: Impaired driving, which means driving when your ability is affected by alcohol or drugs, is a crime and you can be convicted under the Criminal Code of Canada. As a result, a individual may lose your licence, be fined, or spend time in jail

Arson: It is a criminal act act of deliberately setting fire to a building, car or other property for fraudulent or malicious purposes

Criminal Harassment: Where someone knowingly or recklessly harasses another person and causes that person reasonably to fear for their safety or the safety or anyone known to them, the conduct constitutes a criminal offence, and is punishable by a range of sanctions up to and including imprisonment. 

Alcohol Dependence: Alcohol Dependence is a condition characterized by the harmful consequences of repeated alcohol use, a pattern of compulsive alcohol use, and (sometimes) physiological dependence on alcohol (i.e., tolerance and/or symptoms of withdrawal). This disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviours become persistent and very disabling or distressing.

Alcohol Abuse Assessment: For Assessment the clinician relies on interviews and self-report questionnaires to assess quantity and frequency of drinking. Questions focus on two aspects: Consequences of drinking and Perceptions of drinking behaviour.

Psychological assessment:  The use of specified procedures to evaluate the abilities, behaviours, and personal qualities of people.

Psychotherapy Any of a group of therapies, used to treat psychological disorders that focus on changing faulty behaviors, thoughts, perceptions and emotions that may be associated with specific disorders.

Stress The pattern of specific and nonspecific responses an organism makes to stimulus events that disturb its equilibrium and tax or exceed its ability to cope.

Parenting Capacity Assessment: Sometimes questions arise about the capacity of parents or other caregivers to raise their children safely. Parenting Capacity Assessments under the Child and Family Servcices Act of Ontario help parents, lawyers, courts, Children's Aid Societies, or other community agencies make decisions about the best interests of children who are the subjects of CAS involvement.

Child Custody Evaluation: A custody evaluation is a very thorough examination of all family members for the purpose of making recommendations to the court about a parenting plan (also known as a custodial arrangement) that will be in the best interests of the children involved.

Couple Therapy/ Marriage therapy- Marriage counselling, also called couples therapy, helps couples — married or not — understand and resolve conflicts and improve their relationship. Marriage counselling gives couples the tools to communicate better, negotiate differences, problem solve and resolve conflicts in a healthier way.
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