Here are three myths and truths about an effective program to help men and domestic abuse.
Marital counseling can help the couple improve their relationship.
Offering marital counseling gives the offender a rationalization for his behavior. Couples counseling should only be provided after the offender has successfully completed a reputable domestic violence program, the person who is abused feels safe, and there is no fear that the counseling will invite violence. Marriage counseling is not an appropriate alternative to a domestic violence program.
An anger management framework can teach the offender anger management techniques within the relationship.
The assumption in anger management counseling is that the offender’s stress and anger builds until an incident triggers a violent outburst. Anger management is designed to work with perpetrators of stranger or non-intimate anger problems. Anger management techniques can be an effective component of therapy, but only a part of a domestic violence program. These are two very different clinical approaches.
The dangers of the psychological framework:
Many mental health professionals believe offenders batter because they have psychological problems, and/or family of origin issues, diagnosing them with a variety of disorders. Likewise, they often label battered women with poor self image, co-dependency, or “learned” helplessness.
Focusing on individual psychological problems of an offender at the expense of challenging a male’s beliefs and attitudes about women and male entitlement will not produce significant changes in behavior.
At CTC, we believe in the following truths:
- Offenders have the capacity to change.
- Our therapists are compassionate without colluding.
- Our job is to provide a structured, evidence based approach that teaches innovative skills, techniques, options, and plans for a better relationship, such as:
Effects of abuse on partners and families
Letting go of anger
Destructive and defensive responses
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