Dr. O'Connell's areas of specialty include sexual behavior problems, relationship problems, personality disorders and substance abuse.
His introduction to counseling therapy began in 1974 when he, as a Navy Officer, was assigned duty as the director of a U.S. Navy Correctional Center. He earned his Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Washington (1977) and became a therapist doing inpatient substance abuse treatment.
In 1980 he began a private practice. He started to work with sex offenders in 1981 and continues that work today.
Along the way, he earned his Doctorate in Counseling Psychology (Ph.D) at the University of Washington (1997), including doing research on using polygraph testing with sex offenders.
He is a past President of the Washington Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (WATSA) and is a current member of the board. Dr. O'Connell is also a member of the Washington State Sex Offender Policy Board.
Dr. O'Connell co-authored the book Working with Sex Offenders (Sage, 1990) which outlines national standards of practice for community-based treatment of sex offenders.
Other publications by Dr. O'Connell include:
• Clearing up Some Myths about Sex Offenders, Treating Abuse Today, May/June 1991, 15-16
• Reuniting Incest Offenders with their Families, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, September 1986, 374-386
• Polygraphy: Assessment and Community Monitoring. In Laws, Hudson & Ward (Eds.) Remaking Relapse Prevention with Sex Offenders (pp.285-302). (Sage, 2000)