Projet Hypothèse Gaia

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Male only

Population served: Adult offenders; Families; Victims of crime

Topic: Family (domestic) violence/child maltreatment; Recidivism; Sexual violence (non-domestic)

Setting: Urban area; Social services setting

Location: Quebec

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: In progress

Continuum of intervention: Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Projet Hypothèse Gaia is a program that is designed to reduce recidivism of sexual violence among youth and help these youth deal with the risk factors they are facing. The intervention of the program combines individual, peer group, and family systematic therapy sessions to provide an encompassing support system for the youth and their families. The program is structured with the purpose of maximizing the therapeutic effects the intervention can have on the functioning of the family.

The program is centered on counselling and social work; cognitive behavioral therapy; family therapy; and peer counseling and mediation.


The main goals of the Projet Hypothèse Gaia are to:

  • Reduce risk factors associated with sexual violence;
  • Reduce recidivism rates among young sexual offenders; and
  • Reduce amount of conflict in the family and improve relationships within and outside the family.


The appropriate clientele for the Projet Hypothèse Gaia are youth aged 12-17 who have committed sexual abuse (either in or out of the family context), the victims of familial abuse, and their parents/caregivers. There may also be family relationship problems (parenting difficulties, non-sexual conflicts) within the participating families.

Referrals to the program are provided by partnering agencies and treatment centres.

Core Components

The Projet Hypothèse Gaia is composed of the 5 following modules:

  • Module A: Parental support groups: A parental help group aims to help the parent deal with their distress related to the issue, including their perceptions of the problem, and their motivation to change and participate in the program (parents associated with 5 families (maximum) with 2 therapists);
  • Module B: Recidivism prevention and protection measures: Therapeutic meetings with the youth and their family are conducted to help both parties explore and reduce the risk factors associated with family violence. Protection measures towards these risk factors are also established if the victim of the youth’s violence is a family member;
  • Module C: Sexual & intimacy education: The negative/violent sexual behaviours of the youth are explored and discussed in depth with the youth, parents, and therapist;
  • Module D: Communication, supervision and disciplinary practices: The youth and their parents are helped by learning disciplinary practices, conflict resolution, as well as other cognitive-behavioural therapies in therapeutic meetings; and
  • Module E: Cohesion, differentiation, communication and complex trauma: The therapeutic process within the program helps the family as a whole build on communication skills and conflict resolution, to help them avoid future conflicts.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: To properly implement this program, the organization must have significant experience in group and family intervention and possess the ability to integrate intervention approaches from systemic, psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural therapy.
  • Partnerships: Important partnerships for the successful implementation of the program include centres of forensic psychiatry, sexual abuse, and other social services that can help victims and offenders of sexual crimes.
  • Training and technical assistance: All clinicians for the Projet Hypothèse Gaia should have their master’s degree in clinical psychology or in another relevant discipline. All staff must also undergo in-house training (evaluators, therapists, and supervisors).
  • Risk assessment tools: A standardized risk assessment should be used for the Projet Hypothèse Gaia. More information on the subject is limited.
  • Materials & resources: Organizations planning on implementing this program should have space and equipment to run the program (computers, phones, conference room, formation room, etc.), and access/ability to use psychometric tools. The manual for the Projet Hypothèse Gaia must also be used.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement the Projet Hypothèse Gaia from 2015-2019 in Montreal, Quebec under the Crime Prevention Action Fund.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of the Projet Hypothèse Gaia is set to be conducted by an external evaluator. This evaluation is currently in progress; results are not yet available at this time.

Cost Information

No information available.


There is no Canadian reference available at this time.

For more information on this program, contact:

Monique Tardif (UQÀM)
Département de sexologie - Université du Québec à Montréal
C.P. 8888, succ. Centre-ville
Montréal, Québec H3C 3P8
Telephone: (514) 987-3000

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-09
Record Updated On - 2023-01-30
Date modified: