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by Robert F. Stadolnik
by Robert F. Stadolnik

Drawn to the Flame: Assessment and Treatment of Juvenile Firesetting Behavior

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• 2000  106pp paperback   ISBN: 9781568870632
• A Practitioner's Resource Series Title

More juveniles are arrested for arson than any other violent crime and over 50% of all arrests for arson involve children under the age of 18 (source: Federal Bureau of Investigation).  In spite of this fact, there have previously been very few authoritative books or workshops dealing with assessment of and behavioral interventions with child and adolescent firesetters.  As a result, most mental health professionals are unfamiliar with the empirical literature regarding juvenile firesetting and many cling to beliefs that are based more on myth than reality.

This highly instructive practitioner guide summarizes research findings; outlines existing theories, diagnostic classifications, motivational typologies, and family characteristics; describes available assessment tools, models, and protocols; and presents alternatives for treatment including interventions that involve collaboration with fire service professionals and families.  The author presents "best practice" standards for those who want to expand their practices to work with juvenile firesetters and fire prevention programs.  Includes two illustrative case studies, numerous references, and additional regional, state, and national resources for further study, training, networking, and skill development.

"Facts about firesetting are scarce, and this well-written handbook is a welcome addition to the small body of literature on juvenile firesetting behavior.  Stadolnik, a strong advocate of appropriate diagnosis, as well as an expert in providing treatment to juvenile firesetters, feels that diagnoses of firesetting and pyromania tend to be based more on myth than on fact.  Besides clarifying the magnitude of the problem in terms of both public safety and personal property loss, he gives a clear presentation of its implications for the psychiatric and criminal justice systems.  His text, reinforced with current scientific research, provides excellent motivational typologies, assessment tools, and case studies for the professional who treats firesetting youth... provides new and invaluable assistance to mental health, education, and fire science professionals. 

"...serves as an important alarm bell to warn and wake us from social and professional slumber.  For once, sadly, and author rightly terms a problem as 'a child and adolescent crisis of tremendous proportions.'  Stadolnik's book is a wonderful example of the 'best-practices' approach... includes recommendations of particular instruments and approaches for assessment and treatment.  This is a straightforward, yet sophisticated work worth reading by any psychologist who works with children or adolescents.  Robert Stadolnik has done us all a service by drawing us nearer to the flames."
     -Massachusetts Psychologist

Table of Contents
Common Mythology and Misinformation
   Roots and Early History of the Mythology
   Firesetting in Psychiatric Literature
   The Mythology of Firesetting
Firesetting Incidence and Prevalence Data
   Public Safety Data
   Criminal Justice Data
   Property Loss Data
   Parent and Family Characteristics
   Clinical Incidence
   Diagnostic Classification
   Pyromania, Sex, and Firesetting
Firesetting Theory
   Dynamic-Behavioral Formulation
   Social Learning Model
   Cycles of Firesetting: An Oregon Model
Motivational Typologies
   "Curiosity" Motivated Firesetting
   "Crisis" Motivated Firesetting
   "Delinquent" Motivated Firesetting
   "Pathologically" Motivated Firesetting
Firesetting Assessment Issues
   Clinician Background and Skills
Firesetting Assessment Models, Protocols, and Tools
   Children's Firesetting Interview (CFI) and Firesetting Risk Interview (FRI)
   The F.I.R.E. Protocol: An Assessment Instrument for Firesetting Behaviors
   Firesetter Analysis Worksheet
   Juvenile Firesetter Needs Assessment Protocol (JFNAP)
      Moderate Prognostic Indicators
      Guarded Prognostic Indicators
      Poor Prognostic Indicators
   Qualitative Analysis Model of Child and Adult Fire Deviant Behavior
Massachusetts Coalition Model
   Fire History
   Fire Scene Evidence
   Fire Knowledge
   Parent/Family Functioning
   Behavioral Functioning
   Emotional Functioning
   Cognitive/School Functioning
Review of Literature
Treatment Components
   Fire Service Collaboration
   Fire Safety Education
   Behavioral Interventions
   Family Therapy
   Hospitalization, Residential Placement, and Medication
   Background Information
   Behavioral Observations/Mental Status Examination
   Test Results
   Firesetting Behavior
   Treatment Recommendations
   Background Information
   Behavioral Observations/Mental Status Examination
   Test Results
   Firesetting Behavior
   Treatment Recommendations
National and International Organizations
Professional and Technical Resources
State and Regional Juvenile Firesetting Intervention Networks

About the Author
Robert F. Stadolnik, EdD, is President of Fire Psych, Inc., a specialized psychological practice in Norwood, Massachusetts providing assessment and treatment services to juvenile firesetters.  He is a licensed psychologist whose practice specialties include child, adolescent and family psychology.  Dr. Stadolnik provides supervision, consultation and training regarding firesetting behaviors on a local, state and national level.  In 1992, he cofounded the Westwood (MA) Firesetting Intervention Project (with Chief John Sheehy of the Westwood Fire Department).  Dr. Stadolnik has been a member of the Massachusetts State-Wide Coalition for Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Programs since 1993.  In 1996, he established the Mental Health Task Force within that coalition to develop, enhance and coordinate the integration of mental health services in multidisciplinary firesetting intervention sites throughout the state; and he served as Chair of that Task Force from 1996 to 2000.  Dr. Stadolnik is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Massachusetts Psychological Association.

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