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Self-help program

2. Identify how your mental images arise

The association of sexual fantasies with children can increase the risk of actions that could be harmful or damaging to children or constitute criminal activity. Therefore, it is important to identify how mental images related to children arise.

In the next exercise, you will consider what kind of emotions and bodily sensations, such as arousal, arise for you when thinking about children sexually.

Exercise: How mental images about children arise


You will understand what kind of situations act as triggers for sexual thoughts and images related to children. You will also get an idea of how often these thoughts arise for you and how they affect the way you feel.


Think about the answers to the questions below in your mind, or type the answers in the provided boxes. You can also write the answers on paper.

If you like, you can also keep a journal for a week and observe in which situations sexual thoughts related to children arise for you and what triggers them. You can also use the questions below to help you with the journal.

Please note that this task only concerns sexual thoughts about children and related emotions and sensations. Actions will be examined later in another exercise.

1. Situation (triggering factor)

Describe a situation in which you had sexual thoughts related to children. Start by writing down the day of the week and the date.

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2. Thoughts

What kind of sexual thoughts related to children did you have?

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3. Emotions and bodily sensations

What kind of emotions or bodily sensations did you experience during the situation?

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Did you experience your emotions and sensations as positive or negative?

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How strong were the emotions and sensations?
0 = Not at all strong
10 = Very strong

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How disturbing or compelling were the emotions and sensations? 
0 = Not at all disturbing
10 = Very disturbing

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Emotions and sensations can be experienced as positive, negative or neutral.

If a thing is perceived as positive, it is likely that the person does not want to give it up. An example of such a thought could be: “Thinking about children sexually feels good, and I get aroused by it.”

The same also works the other way around. An unpleasant experience does not encourage you to continue.