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Forio: a Swiss treatment program for young sex offenders with intellectual disabilities

Andrea Hollomotz (University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)
Seraina Caviezel Schmitz (Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland)

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Article publication date: 15 November 2018

Issue publication date: 20 November 2018




The purpose of this paper is to provide a description of a Swiss outpatient group therapy for adolescent and young men with intellectual disabilities who have sexually offended.


The findings from two studies that examined the treatment independently from one another are brought together. These combine the qualitative methods of document analysis of programme tools, overt participant observations of treatment sessions and semi-structured interviews with programme designers.


At the heart of Forio treatment is a seven-step programme that aims to enable participants to increase their risk management capacities and foster pro-social behaviours. Responsivity issues are a key consideration, and the use of a traffic light system to distinguish acceptable, borderline and unacceptable behaviours provides a central reference point throughout treatment and beyond. Treatment relies on individuals practising newly learned pro-social behaviours in their daily life. To facilitate this, risks are managed, and support is provided via close networking between therapists and the supervision and social care network.

Practical implications

This paper offers detailed descriptions of the programme setting, structure and tools, which will allow international readers to adapt the techniques discussed to suit their specific treatment context. Particularly, the close networking between treatment providers and those managing risks in the community is commendable.


The Forio programme has not previously been described in English language papers. Even though it arises from the same evidence base as the internationally more widely known programmes, this paper offers unique insights into ways in which known concepts have been adapted to suit local circumstances.



This paper arises from research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC Grant Ref: ES/L010534/1) and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. The authors would like to thank Monika Egli-Alge and Meinrad Rutschmann from Forio for making available documents for review and answering the many questions that arose in the writing of this paper, and Tatjana Voβ and colleagues from the Charité hospital in Berlin for allowing the authors to name their programme.


Hollomotz, A. and Caviezel Schmitz, S. (2018), "Forio: a Swiss treatment program for young sex offenders with intellectual disabilities", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 117-127.



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