Domestic abuse counseling is the usual result in Illinois for a misdeameanor conviction for domestic battery.
Oftentimes the State's Attorney will offer the defendant a plea agreement which includes a 24 week psychoeducation program, which in Illinios, is overseen broadly by the Department of Human Services at the state level, the women's shelter and the county probation department at the county level.
The Department of Human Services provides a basic outline of what topics domestic abuse counseling should address, and provides some basic rules for how the groups should be facilitated.
Those guidelines have their roots in the Minnesota Model of domestic violence, a program developed by social workers in the 1970's I believe, in Duluth, Minnesota, which grew out of the Women's Movement or feminist movement.
Broadly, domestic abuse counseling is charged with helping the participant, whether male or female, to understand the difference between power and control behaviors and egalitarian behaviors.
The Power and Control Wheel and the Equality Wheel are the two tools used most frequently to demonstrate those concepts.
I have been leading domestic abuse counseling groups for a long period of time, and I think it is important to address some issues for those working in those positions.
Although the groups are supposed to be psychoeducational, your clients may not always understand that and they may bring psychotherapeutic issues to the program, including childhood abuse and profound grief issues.
Veterans can bring another set of issues to the program also, especially combat survivors, and any domestic abuse counselor should have some training in how to recognize and refer psychotherapeutic issues.
Group leaders are charged to teach participants how to be in relationship where participants offer each other choice, which is the opposite of power and control.
Domestic abuse counselors will therefore need to teach models for reflective listening and assertive communication, emotional intelligence, stress management, parenting, non-verbal communication and how we interpret non-verbal communication, a road map for grieving, forgiveness and reconciliation, even budgeting and money management, for example.
Invariably, issues in sexuality will come up.
I like to teach quite a bit about perceptions and how we as humans perceive visual, and auditory data, and that the words we create to describe that process exist only in our heads, and we are responsible for those words and the actions we take in response to those perceptions.
Clients cannot dispute that they perceive inside their own heads, and we can move effectively from the Karpman drama triangle (victim-persecutor-rescuer) where the client blames someone else for their behavior to a more effective kind of accountability, like an "I" statement and accountability.
Research in the years since domestic violence became a cause has blunted the original theory that domestic violence was a function of patriarchy and that all men were patriarchs, therefore abusive, and towards a serious analysis of data bases from two seemingly exclusive views of domestic violence.
Michael Johnson from Penn State provides an interesting analysis of the two models, and says that the Murray Strauss data represent a level of domestic violence characterized by what he calls "common couples violence" where men and women strike each other with about equal frequency and the data from women's shelters paints a picture of domestic violence that he calls "patriarchal terrorism" which is a brutal and deadly kind of domestic violence almost completely perpatrated by males.
Donald Dutton has done decades of research into the personality of abusers and has come provided some excellent thought in regards to men's insecure attachment style, impacted by shame from their father's as a large factor in perpatrator behavior.
In this model, perpatrators are flooded with anxiety when they perceive (or have a memory cued) a threat of abandonment, and strike out as an attempt to relieve the overwhelming internal experience of anxiety. (Please read Donald Dutton's work for his exact thoughts, those are what I remember).
The field is now moving towards a consideration of several kinds of family violence, such as elder abuse, sibling abuse, child abuse, pet abuse, and the two models of spousal abuse under one rubric, if you will, of family violence.
Since the field began, there have been tremendous advances in our ability to observe the brain using tools like SPECT scans and fMRI or functional magnetic resonance imaging to look at brains more deeply than we have ever been able to, and Helen Fisher Ph.D has done some very intriguing work with in-love brains.
I like to teach my clients about that hard wiring, so that they again get a sense of what is happening inside when powerful emotions are being felt.
I am not aware yet of any brain scans of domestic violence clients but there is some interesting thought by Fisher about the reward centers of the brain and how they respond when jilted, and the relationship between those askew reward centers and stalking, for example.
I think it is important to challenge men to operate from a mission which reflects something about their deepest beliefs.
Oftentimes those beliefs will revolve around their hopes for their children, and especially their daughter's.
Sexism and gender beliefs can easily be brought to light and examined when my male clients speak from the heart about their dreams for their daughters, and how they want to nurture their daughter's talents.
Of course, translating that to relationships with adult females can be met with resistance.
Careful exploration of that resistance though often leads to grief rather than patriarchy, a grief that might go all the way to childhood and some pain related to an incident with mom or an older sister or a teacher.
Once the grief is explored, some teaching about offering choice can be explored.
Offering choice must be taught so that my client understands that true choice means that the spouse can say no, and my client will experience disappointment, and must handle that disappointment by looking for another solution, rather than violence.
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