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Conjoint Treatment of Couples Who Have Experienced Intimate Partner Violence

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 16 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2011 Pages: 312-318
Sandra M. Stith; Eric E. McCollum
Date Published
August 2011
7 pages
This article examines the issues surrounding the use of conjoint treatment for couples experiencing intimate partner violence.
This manuscript addresses an important controversy in the intimate partner violence (IPV) field, treating couples experiencing IPV conjointly. Some advocates who work with victims of violence believe that conjoint treatment is never appropriate if there has ever been IPV. Others take a more moderate position and believe that it may be appropriate for some couples after the offender has completed a comprehensive batterer intervention program. Because of these concerns, many IPV offender standards expressly prohibit the funding of any program that offers couples or family counseling. However, the case against couple's therapy may not be as simple as these standards suggest. Many couples choose to stay together after experiencing IPV. Enhancing these couples' abilities to resolve conflict non-violently may, rather than endanger victims, actually enhance safety of couples and children in these homes. In this paper we address the ideological, theoretical, empirical and practical foundations of the arguments in the controversy and the impact of the controversy on research, policy and practice. Finally, we suggest ways the controversy should be bridged and propose guidelines for selecting situations in which conjoint treatment most appropriately addresses IPV in a relationship. (Published Abstract)