Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Michael Chovanec


Social Work


Domestic violence is something that impacts families worldwide. One in three women in the US will experience domestic violence in their lifetime (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012); given this statistic, children will inadvertently be exposed to domestic violence as a result. Young children, whom are likely in the home with their parents, are highly vulnerable to domestic violence exposure, and the impacts that it has on mental health functioning. This qualitative research project focused on the question “What are the best methods of practice for working with children aged 2-6 who have been exposed to domestic violence and are experiencing mental health complications?”. This research was done utilizing a semi-structured interview with professionals who work with children and carry a caseload of 50% or more of children exposed to domestic violence. Findings include overall descriptions of symptomology due to domestic violence exposure; the importance of recognizing variations of symptomology based on the circumstances surrounding the child’s exposure; age appropriate treatment recommendations, consistency being central in treatment, and recommended wrap around services for the family; and the need for professionals to get the big picture and assess for domestic violence exposure to reduce misdiagnosis. Implications from this study include the need for agency supervisor’s to monitor turnover rates and consistency of service provided, the need for funding of agencies which provide wrap around support for families experiencing domestic violence, and the importance of professional consultation and in-depth assessment in order to reduce misdiagnosis.

Included in

Social Work Commons