Patrick B. McGinnis, PhD, LMHC

Psychotherapy, Sex Therapy, Couple's Counseling, Addictions Counseling, Psychological & Psychosexual Assessment and Polygraph Testing

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Phallometric Testing

 

Phallometric testing using the penile plethysmograph involves the measurement of changes in penile circumference in response to sexual and nonsexual stimuli. Phallometric testing provides objective information about male sexual interests, and is therefore useful for identifying deviant sexual interests. (ATSA Practice Standards and Guidelines)

 

 The major advantages:

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Identify individuals who show excessive arousal in response to stimuli associated with sexual abuse.  

 

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Identify lack of sexual arousal to stimuli of consenting sexual relations.

 

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Identify offenders whose arousal disorder indicates the need for specialized therapies (e.g. behavioral, hormonal).

 

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Data may assist in minimizing distortions evident in self-reported levels of sexual arousal.

 

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Evaluation of therapeutic efficacy (best for behavior therapy); and

 

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Enhancement of some forms of behavior therapy.

 

Testing Process:

 There are three phases of a Phallometric Test.  These phases are described below:

 

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Interview Phase:  During this phase, the examinee (person being tested) will be asked questions about their sexual interests and behaviors, as well as be informed about the testing procedure.

 

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In-test Phase:  This phase is conducted in the laboratory. The examinee is in a private room. He is instructed on how to place the penile transducer on his penis. He then views and listens to various stimulus materials. As different stimulus material is presented, he may experience varying levels of sexual arousal—which is recorded on a moving chart in a separate room.

 

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Post-test Phase:  The data collected in the in-test phase is interpreted and reviewed with the examinee. 

 

Cautions:

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Phallometric test results should not be used to make inferences about whether an individual has or has not committed a specific sexual crime; and

 

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Phallometric testing should not be used as the sole criterion for estimating risk for engaging in sexually abusive behavior.

 
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