Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Jeong-Kyun Choi

Abstract

Marital therapy with couples is routinely provided by licensed professionals including psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and licensed clinical social workers. Studying assessment practices provides information about how individuals, differing licensing categories, and the overall group assess for domestic violence in couples presenting for conjoint therapy. The present study utilized a survey consisting of both quantitative and qualitative items requesting responses to find out the frequency and methods of assessment for domestic violence when couples present for conjoint marital therapy. Respondents to the survey included 30 Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers, 19 Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, five respondents indicating belonging to other categories. The results indicate not all therapists assess for domestic violence in a universal manner, leaving some couples unscreened for violence in the relationship. The methods used to screen for violence in relationships were not always consistent with recommendations from professional organizations and research based literature. Overall therapist responses to working with couples where domestic violence is disclosed indicate safety for the abused partner is considered a foremost concern. Training about assessment processes and the dynamics of violent relationships may increase therapist feelings of competence in their work. More evidence based research is needed to agree what the best methods are to assess and treat violent relationships.

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