Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of actions one partner uses to maintain control over the other partner in the relationship. This abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial and can vary in how often and how severe each episode can be. IPV does not differentiate or care what socioeconomic background and education level an individual has, only that one person is using force to make the other person in the relationship obey their rules. Some survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse experience isolation on a daily basis, and are often met with disbelief or challenges asking, Why did you stay? Many simply avoid speaking to the survivor out of fear that they might say the wrong thing (Dutton, 2017).
Facilitators need to address the safety and concerns of IPV survivors during group and individual counseling sessions. Group counseling often helps to decrease feelings of isolation, allowing the person to see that they are not alone in this experience and, if they allow, they can receive support from others in the group.
Group sessions in this proposal will use Person-Centered Therapy, because the goal of this therapy is not solving clients’ problems but assist clients in their growth process so they have a better chance of coping with current and potential future problems (Smith 2016, p. 270).
Both facilitators, using Person-Centered Methodology, when working with survivors of domestic violence will provide a non-confrontational, safe environment where IPV survivors have the opportunity to begin the healing process. The two counselors will provide the facilitator and co-facilitator roles and each will have similar skills, knowledge, and training. They will work together during sessions and if there is need of immediate individual support, then one of the facilitators and the group member will be able to withdraw from the group while the other facilitator continues with the session in progress. If there is not an immediate need, an individual appointment discussion at the end of group session can occur. Having similar levels of experience will allow each facilitator role flexibility from session to session.
Distribution of the flyer announcing the group sessions will be within the three IPV facilities that agreed to participate, in order to provide privacy and safety to all individuals who live in those same facilities. Case managers within the facility will screen interested candidates to determine if they meet the base criteria and then forward this information to the point of contact at the facilitators’ organization. Each of the three facilities that have agreed to participate will provide female gender only candidates, over 18 years of age, and currently residing in the IPV facility in order to allow a pressure-free zone. The two facilitators will look over the information to make a final determination of potential benefit to the candidate before providing case managers with the okay to proceed with an invite to the individual and a confidentiality form to discuss and sign.
Individual suitability for this group will include those with four out of six of the following characteristics: low self-esteem, depression, anger, emotional insecurity, dependence, and a need to control their environment. This need for careful vetting of individuals chosen to participate and identified by the following factors indicated by research into past group session evaluations: the needs of the group, the expectations of members, and the individual participant’s commitment to six sessions of one hour each.
This will be a closed group consisting of six to eight participants. The group meetings will begin on January 9th and occur every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for six weeks from 10:00 am to 11:30 am in the activities room at each IPV facility. This meeting time was chosen based on room availability in each facility, childcare availability (if needed), presence in the facility of the IPV survivors, and the case managers to assist with any unexpected issues.
Group Structure established by the facilitators will provide guidelines for group members to follow during each group session. Group members can discuss the need to add any guidelines during any session if the need arises. Guidelines are as follows:
Confidentiality regarding mandated reporting requirements;Stress the importance to be on time for each session;Individual participant counseling can be scheduled outside of the group;Advising members not to share information if this would put their safety at risk;Some group members will not want acknowledgment outside the group; Agreement to allow speaker courtesy during the group sessions.
Advocacy, support, empowerment, and participation. Each session will follow a basic agenda; however, the facilitators will be mindful and flexible on session topics as these group sessions are about the IPV survivors.
Group members agreed to six sessions and the facilitators will remind group members during the initial session and the fourth session. The final session will be a wrap up for group members and less formal than prior sessions. Facilitators plan to allow group members time to mingle and participate in punch, dessert, and a planned presentation of an achievement rock, rather than a paper certificate.
Evaluations provided to the group members during the last session for completion, not mailed out, in order to maintain the safety of the participants. Group members will be advised that they can provide additional comments on the group to their case managers and have the ability to either allow the information to be shared with the facilitators or not.
The facilitators will discuss how to deal with issues that arise during group prior to each weekly meeting, consulting the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics (ACA 2014) if any ethical concern arises during group sessions. The facilitators have agreed to use the Tarvydas Integrative Model for Ethical Behavior and/or the Ethical Decision-Making Model Worksheet, if needed. If any suicidal ideation (SI) or homicidal ideation (HI) occurs, one facilitator will go aside from the group and work with that individual in the completion of an assessment to determine the level of risk. The individual’s case manager is advised, and depending on the assessment result a facility specializing in SI/HI will be contacted and the individual admitted. The facilitator’s duty to warn and to protect is a dual responsibility to protect the group member, as well as, other group members and individuals (Corey, Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2015)
Group Sessions (6)
Ice Breaker (10-15 minutes) – Each facilitator will take turns introducing themselves, why they are here, past work experience, training and qualifications, and their favorite color.
Then in round-robin style, participants provide only their first name and favorite color.
Facilitators will write down the favorite color of the group members for an activity in the closing session. At this point the facilitators will provide announcements: emphasizing confidentiality and that no partners or ex-partners will be allowed around the group (non-negotiable), housekeeping information (bathrooms and drinking fountains), building safety (fire exits, first aid), explain complaints procedure, and no smoking, no e-cigarettes, and no vaping.
Facilitators will discuss what each session’s proposed course content would be, and only one break will occur during the group session.
Activity (20-25 minutes) – Using a flip chart to write down information, facilitators will go around the circle to give each group member an opportunity of what one expectation they would want to obtain from the group sessions. Begin with the facilitator not doing the writing. Label the flip chart Our Group
Expectations. Go around the circle a couple times in case some group members have more than one thing they would like to get out of coming to the group.
The flip chart page can be tacked up on the wall during each session, or not, but will be brought out during the closing session to discuss if the expectations of each group member have been met.
Activity (5 minutes) “ Discuss with group members if they would be okay with having a case manager from the facility come in during week five to provide information and availability on resources in the community.
Facilitators will ascertain at this time if group members would like community resource information on surrounding communities that relocation would be an option. This would determine if an invite is offered to an IPV case manager from that community, or just have information to provide the group.
Close (5 minutes) – During session closure, the facilitators will congratulate every one for completing week one group session. The facilitators will begin a round robin of checking in with ?I’ statement of how group members are feeling at that moment and stress that safety at all times is very important each person and facilitators will remind group members of the topic for next session.
Greeting (5 minutes) “Facilitators will lead the round robin of ?I’ statement on how each person is feeling at that moment. Recap last group session.
Ice Breaker (10-15 minutes) “ Have each group member remove any negative thoughts by writing them down on paper, seal them in an envelope, and place the envelope under their chairs. Facilitators will have provided pens, paper, and envelopes.
Activity (20-25 minutes) – Facilitators will provide each group member with a photocopy of the Duluth Equalities When and Duluth Power and Control Wheel. After giving the participants a few minutes to look over the information, begin a discussion how each group member has been affected by the violence and what would be the corresponding non-violence section states. Do participants feel they are able to begin making the change to the Equality Wheel and let them provide the discussion on why or why not?
Activity (15-20 minutes) “ Provide a photocopy of the Definitions of violence and abuse, then using the flip chart to write down information, go around the circle to give each group member an opportunity to provide a personal definition in one of the quadrants. Label the flip chart Our Definitions. Go around the circle a couple times in case some participants have more than one thing they would like to add.
Close (5 minutes) – During session closure, the facilitators will congratulate every one for completing the week two session, stress that safety at all times is very important each person and remind every one of the topic for next session. Then begin the round robin of checking in with ?I’ statement of how group members are feeling at that moment. The facilitators will have the group members pick the sealed envelopes up and ask them to tear up the feeling that they sealed within and toss it away.
Greeting (15-20 minutes) “Recap last session. The facilitators will lead the group in a guided mindfulness meditation session. Integrative holistic practices offered in a retreat environment that supports the mind and body’s natural inclination toward healing cannot only provide significant relief, but can perhaps also better position an individual to benefit from more traditional forms of psychotherapy, as a great capacity to self-regulate provides a firm foundation on which to embark on trauma treatment (Dutton, 2017).
Activity (20-25 minutes) “ Provide each participant with a photocopy of a plan outline, adapted from Saving Grace safety planning (Saving Grace, 2011) to discuss and remind group members that for safety reasons, never leave their plan where others could discover it. Some advocates talk about assessing what kinds of things the victim has done before and whether and how that worked; the next step is to assess what they feel comfortable doing in the future (Logan, 2018). Discuss whom participants might trust enough share their safety plan with, and would they consider providing the IPV agency with a copy. Discuss with participants the need for individuals deemed trustworthy enough be on their plan, how to approach the subject with those individuals.
Close (5-10 minutes) – During session closure, the facilitators will congratulate every one for completing the week two session. Then begin the round robin of checking in with ?I’ statement of how they are feeling at that moment. Remind every one of the topic for next session and please bring his or her completed safety plans.
Greeting (5 minutes) “Facilitators will lead the round robin of ?I’ statement on how each person is feeling at that moment. Recap last session.
Ice Breaker (10-15 minutes) “ Take a few minutes to discuss the participant’s safety plans. Are they completed and if not, what obstacles may the person need assistance in understanding and after the closing the group, set some time aside to provide guidance or set up an individual meeting with the individual.
Activity (20-25 minutes) “ Facilitators will provide the topic of coping with grief, fear, and guilt. This is an important discussion because these emotions experienced most when ending an abusive relationship. Many individuals will mourn what they feel to be a failure of a commitment and may experience overwhelming feelings that are far from being relieved. Fear and anxiety are very common feelings to have when someone is leaving any relationship, and guilt is most common among women with children.
When examining the biological, psychological, and contextual factors related to the development of both anxiety and PTSD, a common factor is the experience of stressful life events (e.g., IPV victimization) and one’s ability to cope with these events (Spencer, 2017). Discuss with the group the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and hope. Understanding the difference is difficult when experiencing uneasiness during non-threatening situations, and fear during threatening situations. Remind the group members that they are not alone and to obtain support from friends, family, and professionals.
Close (5-10 minutes) – During session closure, the facilitators will congratulate every one for completing the week two session. Then begin the round robin of checking in with ?I’ statement of how they are feeling at that moment. Facilitators will remind all group members that there are only two more group sessions.
Greeting (5-10 minutes) “Facilitators will lead the round robin of ?I’ statement on how each person is feeling at that moment. Recap last session.
Activity (20-25 minutes) “ Onsite case manager to present information on community resources. If group members approved, during the initial session, a case manager from the facility will be present to provide information on local resources in their area. If group members did not approve, then information gathered from the local community will be provided to the group members.
Activity (10-15 minutes) “ Take a few minutes to discuss the participant’s safety plans. Are they completed and if not, what obstacles may the person need assistance in understanding and after the closing the group, set some time aside to provide guidance or set up an individual meeting with the participant.
Discuss with group members how to update their plans with any of the community resources information provided.
Close (10-15 minutes) – During session closure, the facilitators will congratulate every one for completing the week two session.
Then begin the round robin of checking in with ?I’ statement of how they are feeling at that moment. Facilitators will stress that safety at all times is very important each person and remind every one of the topic for next session, including a reminder that next week is the last session.
Session Greeting (10-15 minutes) “Facilitators will lead the round robin of I’ statement on how each person is feeling at that moment. Recap last overall six five weeks and what has been learned and pull out the flip chart to touch on what was written that group members wanted to get out of the sessions.
Activity (25-35 minutes) “ Discuss what each group member thinks she learned from the sessions and what each group member thinks her strength or strengths are. Facilitators will provide group members with punch, cookies, and time to mingle with each other. Discuss how to process any termination anxiety or grief expressed during this time and how it is normal. Facilitators will write on stones in each group member’s favorite color what they stated their strengths are and give to each person as a reminder of how they have grown.
Close (15-20 minutes) – During session closure, facilitators will congratulate every one for completing the week two session. Provide an evaluation form for the group members to complete. Then begin round robin of checking in with ?I’ statement of how they are feeling at that moment. Facilitators will direct participants to complete the evaluation forms anonymously and drop them off in the basket as they leave. Have some time available to stay and meet with any participant that may have questions.
Looking into the Day-To-Day Process of Victim Safety Planning examined domestic violence intervention. The research Logan and Walker conducted was a study on the understanding safety planning. They used five focus groups with 37 participants from a variety of settings (Logan, 2018). Logan and Walker observed 33 female and 4 male participants in this study. The participants were professionals in a field that deals with domestic violence on a day-to-day basis. The participants suggested that safety for victims of domestic violence argue safety planning must go beyond simple and generic strategies and referrals (Logan, 2018).
The most important aspect of this study indicates that planning for physical abuse is the most important. Physical safety planning must be treated like a fire drill so that the victim can instinctively know what to do during these scenarios. The other suggestion that stood out was the importance of seeking information from the victims of what they did or did not do and what they should have and should not have done.
Mental Health Factors and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration and Victimization: A Meta-Analysis analyzed IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) of victimization versus perpetration and discussed the correlation between mental health disorders and IPV. The article discusses biological, psychological, and social factors of IPV.
One important aspect Spencer et al. Pointed out was that IPV is usually a two-way street. It does not say that both sides are equally responsible but both partners are often victims and perpetrators of the violence. Spencer et al. also argues that women are more susceptible to depression, anxiety, and PTSD and report feelings of emptiness while men are more susceptible to intense anger, impulsive behavior and avoidance of abandonment. This article suggests the importance of male versus female within the scope of IPV, which could indicate the importance of having separate gender IPV treatment. Prior mental health disorders should be factored into IPV client’s evaluation.
A Holistic Healing Arts Model for Counselors, Advocates, and Lawyers Serving Trauma Survivors: Joyful Heart Foundation Retreat studies the effects of holistic treatment during the baseline period, pretreatment, 2 weeks post-treatment, 3 months follow up and 6 months follow up. Dutton used a similar questionnaire for a baseline to the 3 month follow up period and used a more simplified version of the questionnaire for the 6 month questionnaire. The study showed improvements in stress-related outcomes were remarkably consistent across measures of somatic symptoms, insomnia, posttraumatic stress, perceived stress, depression symptom, fatigue, satisfaction with life, burnout and secondary traumatic stress (Dutton, 2017).
The outcome addressed in the article was that the survivors of abuse are more successful in conditions where they are surrounded by other survivors where they did not have to readdress their narrative but could focus on life-impacting issues and learn coping mechanisms while being in the safety of a group that does not judge or shame their peers. Dutton also expresses the importance of diversity within abuse and that focusing on an integrative psycho-educational approach will be more successful than focusing on the abuse itself. Isolation can be further exaggerated through therapeutic processes that emphasize a hierarchical structure of patient and expert (Dutton, 2017).
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Corey, G., Corey, M. S., Corey, C., & Callanan, P., (2015, 2011). Issues and ethics in the helping professions. Stamford, CT. Cengage Learning.
Dutton, M. A., Dahlgren, S., Franco-Rahman, M., Martinez, M., Serrano, A., & Mete, M. (2017). A holistic healing arts model for counselors, advocates, and lawyers serving trauma survivors: Joyful heart foundation retreat. Traumatology, 23(2), 143-152. doi:10.1037/trm0000109
Edmund, D.S., & Bland, P.J., (2011). Organizing Support Groups. In Real Tools: Responding to Multi-Abuse Trauma (Chapter 17A). Retrieved from https://www.andvsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/17a-FULL-CHAPTER-Organizing-Support-Groups.pdf
Jones-Smith, E. (2016). Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy: an integrative approach (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA. SAGE Publications, Inc.
Logan, T. K., & Walker, R. (2018). Looking into the day-to-day process of victim safety planning. Journal of Family Violence, 33(3), 197-211. doi:10.1007/s10896-018-9951-x
Martins, M. M., Viegas, P., Mimoso, R., Pauncz, A., Toth, G., Hilemae, RCosgrove, S., (2008). The Power to Change. How to set up and run support groups for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Retrieved from https://vawnet.org/material/power-change-how-set-and-run-support-groups-victims-and-survivors-domestic-violence
Saving Grace. (2011). Imagine Life without Violence: Domestic violence [Data file]. Retrieved from https://www.saving-grace.org/get-help/programs/resources/domestic-violence-resources/
Spencer, C., Mallory, A. B., Cafferky, B. M., Kimmes, J. G., Beck, A. R., & Stith, S. M. (2017). Mental health factors and intimate partner violence perpetration and victimization: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Violence. doi:10.1037/vio0000156
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