Why Therapy Is Needed

Harmful sexual behaviour does not occur in isolation, but is instead just one manifestation of the multiple and complex needs of the young people referred to SWAAY.  In line with best practice, and to provide the young people with the best chances of treatment completion and effectiveness, we employ a multimodal and multidisciplinary approach to treatment.  This holistic approach enables the young people to process their own trauma experiences, develop their resilience, gain insight into their own risk factors and develop the protective factors required for safe and happy future.

Our therapy helps our young people address past traumas, manage their emotional and psychological difficulties and regulate their behaviour so they can enjoy a brighter future. The SWAAY therapy programme has developed over the past 20 years and comprises a mix of individual and group therapy delivered by our qualified psychologists and therapists.

Tailor Made

Community Based Service

We offer tailor made assessments and interventions for male and female children, adolescents, young adults and their families in and around the Thames Valley area, where sexual behaviour concerns have been identified.

In addition to our specialist harmful sexual behaviour services our highly skilled therapeutic team are able to offer a range of other assessments in mental health, attachment and trauma, violent and aggressive behaviour, intellectual and adaptive functioning, speech and language, autism, and ADHD.

Therapy Team

Key People

Rachel Edwards

Manager of Community-Based Services

BA (Hons); MSc; C. Psychol.; AFBPsS; HCPC Registered Practitioner Psychologist

I am a Chartered Psychologist and an Associate Fellow with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and a Registered Forensic/Practitioner Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). I hold an honours degree in Psychology and an MSc in Criminological Psychology.

My area of expertise is in the assessment and treatment of young people who have been responsible for harmful sexual behaviour, and have often experienced trauma themselves. I have 25 years’ experience working within this field. I have a specific interest in developing and evaluating treatment programmes for this client group, have published research in this area, and presented at national and international conferences. I am the founding member of a working party of like-minded professionals who are concerned with developing objective assessment tools for young people with learning disabilities in order to better evaluate treatment approaches for this group. I have also developed a particular interest in working with young people on the autistic spectrum and have recently trained in the use of ADOS- 2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and the ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview- Revised). I also have experience in the use of a multitude of other assessments tools relevant to mental health, attachment and trauma, intellectual and adaptive functioning; and attentional problems.

Dr David McDonald

Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

GP; MSc. Psych;MA Theology

After qualifying in medicine and having some experience in  general practice, David decided to sample work in mental health for a better grounding as a GP and then found that he wanted to make a career in that specialty. As an adult forensic psychiatrist working in prisons and hospitals, he  discovered that he was dealing with historically deeply troubled children and took an additional training for this age group.  Rather than relying solely on suppressant medications, he developed an interest in understanding  outward symptoms as communications and defences on behalf of a threatened inner ’self’ and trained as a psychotherapist. David has qualifications  for psychotherapy with individuals, families and groups. He has an MSc in Psychotherapy and an MA in Theology of inter-religious dialogue which underpins his inclusive humanistic practice.

Richard Beckett

Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist

B.Sc. Dip.Clin Psychol. AFBPs.S (Hon)

Richard Beckett is a Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist who was for 18 years the Head of the NHS Oxford/Thames Valley Forensic Psychology Service. He has held previous posts as Research Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Birmingham.

He has an Honours degree in Psychology, and a post-Graduate qualification in Clinical Psychology. He is a Chartered Psychologist, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and a Member of its Criminal and Legal Division.

He was one of the founder members of the National Organisation the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (NOTA), a past chair of the NOTA Research Committee and a previous member of the editorial board of the Journal of Sexual Aggression. He was also a founder member of the European Association for Work with Sexually Abusive Youth (ESSAY).

He is Director of the Adolescent Sexual Abuser Project (ASAP); an international project designed to improve the assessment of adolescent displaying sexually harmful behaviour

He received a National Lottery Innovation Grant to develop an assessment system for Girls who Display Sexually Harmful Behaviour and was also Principle Researcher for a Barnardos project researching Young People at Risk of Sexual Exploitation. He was a consultant to the NSPCC in its work to develop treatment programmes for young people with sexual behavioural problems.

Over a period of ten years, he directed of a series of English government grants for research into the evaluation of sex offender treatment programmes for child abusers, rapists, and sexual murderers. For six years he was a member of the International Panel which designed and accredited the English Prison Sex Offender Treatment Programmes and worked with the English home Office in developing assessment system for Female Sexual Abusers.

He has co-published over 30 academic papers, contributed to books and presented widely at national and international conferences on topics within the field of sexual abuse, forensic psychology and in the field of child protection.

Mette Whittaker


C.Psychol; MSc Forensic Psychology; BSc (Hons) Psychology

Mette is a Chartered and registered Forensic Psychologist and EMDR Therapist. Prior to her work at SWAAY, Mette worked as a support worker for adults with mental health problems, intellectual difficulties, drug dependency and challenging behaviours. She has worked at SWAAY since 2003, in the contexts of residential care and therapy, and has been managing the therapy provision since 2013. She is experienced in facilitating both individual and group therapies and has developed a number of different modules of work specifically for young people who have perpetrated sexual harm. In addition, Mette has overseen the development of several group programmes for this client group, utilising the most recent research and literature in the fields of trauma, attachment and harmful sexual behaviour. She also has experience in conducting both psychometric self-assessments, utilising a number of different assessment tools, and risk assessments. Mette has co-authored two peer reviewed journal articles and a book chapter, presented a number of seminars and workshops in the UK and has assisted in the training programme for volunteers for the Circles of Support and Accountability pilot programme for young people displaying harmful sexual behaviour. Mette is also an external lecturer at the University of Reading where she teaches Forensic Psychology to third year Psychology students and works in independent practice with adolescents, young adults and adults who are experiencing psychological, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

Julian Dunn


CQSW, CCETSW Teaching Award, Home Office-Accredited CBT Group Worker

Julian qualified as a Social Worker in 1989 and worked as a Probation Officer in Berkshire for 10 years. He also worked in London for the NSPCC within an offender management team alongside colleagues for the Nation Probation Service where he developed programs for working with young people displaying harmful sexual behaviour. Additionally he completed Home Office accredited training to work with adults that had offended sexually.  He has been associated with the Swaay project since 1991 and with colleagues he helped develop the clinical therapeutic team which he managed since 2001 until being appointed Strategic Director. Julian maintains overall responsibility for the therapeutic program at Swaay as well as the Community Assessment Team undertaking assessments and intervention within the Thames Valley area and beyond.
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