Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

Winter 12-19-2019

City of Publication or Presentation

London England

Journal Title

Australian Social Work

Journal ISSN



Men referred to domestic abuse treatment are typically involuntary clients, ranging from being legally mandated to being under significant pressure from others to attend. Such treatment programs have mixed results in achieving change in abusive behaviours. Most programs emphasise taking responsibility for abusive behaviour by examining the precursor thinking beliefs and values, with less attention paid to learning new interpersonal skills that replace antisocial behaviours with prosocial alternatives. Empathy provides a measurable moderator of moving beyond simply acknowledging responsibility for past abuse into learning and applying prosocial relationship enhancement skills with their treatment cohort, families, and significant others. This paper describes a program that builds empathy skills through a series of program and mentalisation tasks that include routine client feedback using the Partners for Change Outcome Management System (PCOMS). Evidence of increased retention and statistically significant changes in empathy using the Social Empathy Index are provided from a previous study examining the same program. The practice and research implications for domestic abuse clients and other involuntary populations are discussed.

Included in

Social Work Commons