3. Methods

We consider the methods presented here to be especially suitable for working with the various dynamics of violent relationships presented in Chap. 0.3. Theoretical Underpinning, which include both mono-directional and bi-directional violence.  At the same time, we are not suggesting that other approaches might not also be useful in work with perpetrators.

This will be followed by a particularly detailed description of behavioural training. This includes training modules whose design is both gender and lesbian specific. Due to their broad application, it can be assumed that these concepts are also used with female, i.e. lesbian perpetrators.  Our experience shows that they are often applied to female perpetrators without any further differentiation.  Consequently, programs are rarely offered specifically for women; they are usually embedded in mixed-gender training courses without special consideration of the special characteristics of women as perpetrators. We therefore consider it necessary to present a concept that does justice to the special life situation of lesbian perpetrators. It is oriented on the “Duluth Model”, which was developed by Pence/Paymar at the beginning of the 1990s and modified by Constance Ohms for use with lesbian perpetrators.
Specific offers for lesbian perpetrators are generally not available. Only very few lesbian-specific organisations offers programs for lesbian perpetrators.  
The diversity of dynamics found in violent relationship leads to the conclusion that cognitive-oriented behaviour training represents an option for breaking the cycle of violence for only a very small proportion of perpetrators.

To date, psychotherapy research has been unable to reach consensus on an accepted research paradigm for the investigation of psychotherapy that permits a confident statement about the effect of specific methods of therapy on different psychological problems. From the many different methods of psychotherapy and counselling, we have selected those methods used by the participating cooperation partners.

We consider a systemic approach essential, which focuses on the integration of the individual in a system, whereby “the system” represents a unit that is made up of the individuals (elements) and amounts to more than the sum of these. According to this specialist area, interpersonal relationships and interconnections within a system provide the basis for the work. Lesbian women are integrated into social and emotional systems, whereby the couple represents the smallest system. Both the values of society and of the subculture influence the behaviour, self- perception and sense of self-worth of every lesbian woman. Social systems also offer a broad repertoire of possible solutions, i.e. provide – or deny – access to social resources. A systemic approach, in the sense that “the work is solution and resource-oriented”, is found in all of the methods for working with violent women presented here.

Trauma therapy relates above all to the individual biography and assumes that an experienced trauma and its consequences are the cause of violent behaviour. Trauma is generally understood to refer to damage to a person’s emotional-psychological integrity. A common consequence is the splitting off (dissociation) of parts of the personality and feelings. From the perspective of trauma therapy, this makes the exercise of violence possible because emotions such as a sense of wrongdoing and shame can be split off. Nevertheless, perpetrators are not released from responsibility for their actions; rather their experience of victimisation and their use of violence are both integrated into their self perception. The ultimate objective is the resolution of the dissociation, which from the perspective of trauma therapy is essential for the permanent cessation of violence. The work is oriented to the client’s resources.

Couple Counselling/ couple therapy is concerned with the provision of support for a couple’s development  as it goes through a process of growth, even if there currently appears to be no joint growth due to the exercise of violence, i.e. the violent dynamic in the relationship.
Couples often come to counselling with the aim of continuing the relationship – which is not always fulfilled.
The discussion on the use of couple counselling/couple therapy in violent relationships poses the fundamental question of when is couple counselling “necessary” and when is it “possible”. It requires, for example, the active cooperation of both partners and it cannot function in a partnership with a perpetrator/victim structure. In our opinion, couple counselling/couple therapy should only be used in cases of a bi-directional violent dynamic and is therefore not appropriate for all couples.

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European Commission and the German Federal Ministry of Family, Seniors, Women and Youth.

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