The level of reported cases of Domestic Abuse (DA) continues to increase globally with DA charities recording a 66% increase in calls to helplines during the pandemic. In addition, the number of women murdered by their partner or ex-partner during lockdown also rose above national averages. While much of the clinical literature focuses on physical violence in domestic abuse (DA), there is increasing evidence that there are more subtle and covert forms of abuse in which power and control are used to coerce and emotionally abuse partners in intimate relationships. This training, which would be especially relevant for psychotherapists, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists, aims to enhance our comprehension of the spectrum of DA and its impact and long term effects on survivors. It will also examine how, as practitioners, we can work effectively using the principles of the Power Threat Meaning Framework and Trauma Informed Practice, psychoeducation and stabilization to restore control over trauma symptoms and emotional regulation to allow for effective processing of the DA experiences
To understand the full spectrum of DA, this training will look at small, subtle, yet incremental forms of coercive and controlling behavior, such as ‘love bombing, ‘gaslighting’, thought control, deception, and lying, to distort reality in order to gain control over the partner and make it harder for them to legitimize the abuse. The focus of this training will be on the dynamics of coercive and controlling behavior and emotional abuse and how the use of blame, shame, and humiliation silences those who are being domestically abused.
The training will also explore how these more subtle forms of abuse can precede a range of domestically abusive behaviors, such as the use of physical force, sexual violence, financial abuse, spiritual abuse and revenge porn, and identify those most at risk of DA. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the processes involved in DA such as grooming victims, the cycle of abuse, the role of dissociation and thought blindness that supports the trauma bond which dysfunctionally binds the couple. The aim is to understand the role of attachment and fear of abandonment that underpins much of DA and how this manifests relationally both for the couple and practitioners working with DA. We also look at the importance of the therapeutic relationship in restoring relational worth, mitigating the de-humanizing effects of DA and restoring autonomy and self-agency.
Conceptualizing DA within the complex trauma framework, we consider the processing of the DA narrative and the facilitation of post traumatic growth through the use of the Power Threat Meaning Framework and Trauma Informed Practice. By identifying the challenges of working with DA and introducing a range of therapeutic skills, practitioners will feel more equipped when working with survivors of DA and enhance their comprehension of the transformative effects of post traumatic growth for both clients and practitioners.
This training will provide participants clinical knowledge and tools to:
a). Identify and describe the nature and dynamics of DA, such as how charm and love bombing, gaslighting and deception is used to entice and lower the defenses of victims.
b). Learn and understand the nature of coercive and controlling behavior, such as the use of thought control and thought blindness to distort reality and facilitate the trauma bond.
c). Link the intergenerational transmission of DA to attachment and relational deficits in childhood, and understand how these processes negatively affect adulthood.
d). Differentiate between the characteristics of male and female perpetrators.
e). Formulate DA within complex trauma and acknowledge its psychobiological impact.
f). Identity the long term effects of DA on partners and children, and acknowledge the obstacles to leaving an abusive relationship and the importance of developing safety plans.
g). Incorporate the principles of the Power Threat Meaning Framework and Trauma Informed Practice when working with survivors of DA.
h). Acknowledge the role of the therapeutic relationship in restoring power, control, and autonomy while recognizing this work’s impact on practitioners and the importance of self-care.
Mental Health Clinicians & Therapists, Social Workers, Psychologists, Marriage & Family Therapists, Counselors, School Personnel, and Healthcare Workers.
Instructor(s): Christiane Sanderson, BSc., MSc.
Material Author(s): Christiane Sanderson, BSc., MSc.
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