October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is domestic violence awareness month. Violence between partners and in families occurs nationwide, with far-reaching consequences. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey,

every year, millions of women, men, and children in the United States are victimized by sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence. These forms of violence are serious public health problems that can be harmful to one’s health, both physically and psychologically. Furthermore, evidence indicates that violence experienced early in life can put one at increased risk for subsequent victimization as an adult. (p. 9)

The survey indicates that intimate partner sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking has been experienced by 37.3% of women and 30.9% of men in the United States during their lifetimes (p. 2).

APA authors and editors have addressed the scope of this problem, underlying issues, interventions, and prevention in multiple books.

As the editors of Violence Against Women and Children note, “awareness of the problem is the first step toward prevention. People cannot stop something they cannot see or name” (Volume 2, p. 3). We hope these resources can be helpful to individuals or clinicians who might need them.

References

Smith, S. G., Chen, J., Basile, K. C., Gilbert, L. K., Merrick, M. T., Patel, N., Walling, M., & Jain, A. (2017). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010-2012 State Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Understanding Violent Men

In June, 2017, APA Books published a special, 25th Anniversary Edition of Violent Men: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Violence, by Hans Toch.  This book first grew out of pioneering studies Toch undertook with police offers, corrections officers and prisoners in the late 1960s.  Later editions arrived in 1992 and now 2017.  Each iteration of the book has coincided with eras in which acts of public violence were a matter of widespread concern and debate, from the urban riots in the ‘60s, to the Rodney King beating and aftermath in the early 1990s, to the recurrent shootings, captured and disseminated today thanks to cellphone videos, of unarmed black men and women by police.  Over the years, Toch’s work has helped illuminate and explain how these and similar violent encounters develop—what perpetrators and victims are thinking, why they are thinking it, and what can be done to stop the violence from occurring.

The impact of Toch’s original book cannot be overstated. It essentially invented criminology as a field of study, and endures today as the ultimate demonstration of how applied psychology can help improve people’s lives.

In his Foreword to this new edition, Series Editor Shadd Maruna explains:

The genius of the work obviously begins with its innovative methodology. In Violent Men, Toch pioneers a methodology that has now become known as “peer interviewing” but at the time of publication surely contradicted every known rule of research and common sense—with prisoners interviewing prisoners, parolees interviewing parolees, and policing veterans interviewing police officers. All of these groups were also involved in the analysis of the qualitative data as it emerged as well. (xiii)

In his Foreword to the 1992 edition—reprinted in the new 25th Anniversary Edition—Bertram Karon writes that Toch’s idea sprang from the recognition that

…both “scientific” investigators and violent individuals understand things, but not the same things, and have biased perceptions, but not the same biases. Furthermore, he knew that people talk openly to people like themselves, but that they do not talk openly to people whom they perceive as likely to look down on them. (xvi)

Toch’s method was useful in ways that went far beyond devising and conducting successful experiments. The book’s practical value is so widespread that it has been used and recommended not just by psychologists, but also social workers, parole and probation officers, juvenile workers, and ward staffs across the world.  Perhaps most importantly, according to Karon:

[Toch’s] technique of including violent individuals in the collaborative study of their own and others’ violence turned out to be a potent technique not only of gathering information and insight but also of enabling violent individuals to understand and master their [own] violence. (xvi)

The implications are profound. As Maruna says, Toch’s work enables

 …even the most disquieting acts of violence become intelligible, even understandable. The book achieves, then, what all great social psychology should strive to do: allow the reader to walk in the shoes of the other and experience the world from their vantage point.  With a title like Violent Men, one might expect (even hope for?) a salacious journey into the deranged mind and cold heart of the “other.” Toch’s readers instead leave the book with just the opposite experience, finding they might have learned more about themselves in the book than about mythological superpredators. (xiii)

To purchase this book or adopt it for a course, click here.

Resources

Toch, H. (2017). Violent Men: An Inquiry Into the Psychology of Violence, 25th Anniversary Edition.  Washington, DC: APA Books.

               

 

 

June Releases from APA Books!

Brief Dynamic Therapy 

SECOND EDITION

Hanna Levenson

In this concise volume, Hanna Levenson revisits the history, theory, and practice of brief dynamic therapy.  This integrative approach uses techniques from attachment theory, interpersonal neurobiology, affective–experiential learning, and systems orientations to help clients with dysfunctional ways of relating to others. This Revised Edition includes updated case examples, as well as new research findings—including process-outcome studies that affirm treatment effectiveness, and new research on the “reconsolidation process” that demonstrates how sudden, dramatic change happens in brief dynamic therapy.

 

 Cultural Humility

Engaging Diverse Identities in Therapy

Joshua N. Hook, Don Davis, Jesse Owen, and Cirleen DeBlaere

This book offers a clear, easily adaptable model for understanding and working with cultural differences in therapy.  The authors focus not on theoretical or clinical knowledge, but on what therapists don’t know about their clients.  They discuss how to work with cultural differences, and how to repair cultural missteps that threaten the therapeutic relationship.  Through case examples and hands-on exercises, this book demonstrates how therapists can use their limitations as opportunities to connect with clients at a deeper level.

 

 Existential–Humanistic Therapy

SECOND EDITION

Kirk J. Schneider and Orah T. Krug

Existential-humanistic therapy melds European existential philosophy with humanistic principles of psychotherapy. In this updated guide for students and clinicians, Kirk Schneider and Orah Krug explore the theory, history, research, and practice of this unique approach, including its increasingly integrative perspective. They demonstrate how existential-humanistic therapy’s emphasis on personal freedom, responsibility, and experiential reflection can help clients free themselves from self-imposed limitations and identify authentic life goals.

 

 

 Feedback-Informed Treatment in Clinical Practice

Reaching for Excellence

Edited by David S. Prescott, Cynthia L. Maeschalck, and Scott D. Miller

Feedback-informed treatment (FIT) employs practical measures that allow clinicians to continuously monitor client progress and the therapeutic alliance, and to tailor their approach to meet an individual client’s needs. This book brings together expert clinicians who have successfully integrated FIT into their own work. They teach readers how they can apply FIT to a variety of clients and treatment settings, including private practice, clinics, child and family therapy, LGBTQ counseling, the criminal justice system, and pharmacies.

 

 Narrative Processes in Emotion-Focused Therapy for Trauma

Sandra C. Paivio and Lynne E. Angus

Emotion-Focused Therapy for Trauma (EFTT) is an evidence-based, short-term individual therapy that has proven highly effective in treating clients with trauma through its emphasis on both narrative and emotion processes. Its fundamental underlying assumption is that recovery requires the client to engage emotionally with trauma memories to achieve self-understanding.  EFTT draws upon storytelling as a fundamental aspect of the human experience, permitting a healing engagement with trauma memories.  Richly illustrated with clinical examples, this book fully integrates theory, research, practice, and training.

 

 

Violent Men

An Inquiry Into the Psychology of Violence

25th Anniversary Edition

Hans Toch

This book analyzes the motives, attitudes, assumptions, and perceptions of men who are recurrently violent.  How patterned and consistent is the violence of such men?  What are the dynamics of their escalating encounters?  What personal dispositions and orientations are most apt to lead to violence?

This special 25th Anniversary Edition confronts recent debates over police violence, describes new clinical applications, and offers reflections from preeminent clinicians and scholars on the widespread impact and enduring power of Dr. Toch’s classic work.

Casey Taft: On Non-Violence

This is the latest in a series of interviews with APA Books authors and editors. For this interview, Andrew Gifford, Development Editor at APA Books, interviewed Casey T. Taft of the National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, and Boston University School of Medicine.

Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the official views or policies of the American Psychological Association.

Casey Taft

Casey T. Taft, Ph.D. is a staff psychologist at the National Center for PTSD in the VA Boston Healthcare System, and Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Taft was the 2006 Young Professional Award winner from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the 2009 Linda Saltzman Memorial Intimate Partner Violence Researcher Award winner. He has served or is currently serving as Principal Investigator on funded grants focusing on understanding and preventing intimate partner violence through the National Institute of Mental Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Defense, and the Blue Shield of California Foundation. Dr. Taft has published over 100 empirical papers and book chapters, chaired an American Psychological Association task force on trauma in the military, and consulted with the United Nations on preventing violence and abuse globally.

In addition to the book discussed in this interview, Dr. Taft is also the guest host of Intimate Partner Violence, a Psychotherapy Training Video available on DVD.

In your work with veterans suffering from PTSD, you managed to create something unique, as far as I know:  a model for treating interpersonal violence (IPV) that addresses both perpetrators and victims. How did you come up with this idea?  Could you tell us about the development of this model?  

Our model is trauma-informed in that we account for and discuss the role of trauma throughout the entire assessment and therapy process. What we’ve found is that when we give space for the perpetrator to discuss prior traumatic events, not only does this help set the stage for developing a positive therapeutic alliance and enhance motivation, but it can be healing in and of itself. While our program is not a trauma treatment per se, we do have some evidence that those who receive the program are themselves healing from trauma while they’re also much less likely to inflict trauma upon others. The goal of our program is to stop the cycle of trauma, and we do that be increasing an understanding of trauma and its impacts, and really focusing on how our prior experiences influence how we interpret various situations and our relationship partners.

You’ve noted that many models of IPV treatment do not take trauma into consideration at all. What inspired you to change that, with your model?

 Trauma-informed intervention is increasingly the standard of care for all kinds of problems that might lead someone to treatment, and it stands to reason that we should be doing the same with those who use violence in their relationships. In fact, trauma-informed intervention may be even more important with this population since more than half of those who engage in partner abuse have been abused themselves growing up or observed their parents abusing each other. While almost everyone in the partner violence field acknowledges high rates of trauma in this population, and there seems to be a growing belief that we should be educated about trauma, this hasn’t necessarily translated into specific evidence-based trauma-informed approaches. Especially when we consider that interventions to prevent and end intimate partner violence have not been particularly effective, and other research showing that trauma and PTSD are associated with violence through their influence on how we interpret our social worlds, this seemed like an obvious direction to go.

In your new book Trauma-Informed Treatment and Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence, you and co-authors Christopher M. Murphy and Suzannah K. Creech discuss the importance of a positive therapeutic process. Could you elaborate on what you mean by that phrase? What are some ways that practitioners can adopt a positive approach?

By positive therapeutic process, we’re referring to facilitating positive therapist-client relationships, motivation for ending the abuse, and engagement in the treatment process in general. Historically in partner violence intervention, there has been a tendency to downplay the importance of these factors, with intervention strategies that may be

considered overly confrontational and shaming. This is unfortunate because when we’re working with a trauma-exposed population, they may have difficulty trusting and joining with providers. Therefore, taking a more alliance-enhancing and motivational approach may go a long way towards enhancing our ability to reach violent individuals and help them end their violence. In fact, my dissertation research from long ago showed that when we are able to build a positive working alliance and facilitate group cohesion, those who are in partner violence intervention are less violent and abusive to their partners after program completion.

The programs you’ve developed to end domestic violence in military service members have seen terrific successes and have been adopted by many hospitals and clinics. How do you feel, seeing your work take root in so many places?

It feels amazing, to be honest. So many people have worked really hard to get us to this point. We spent over eight years running randomized controlled trials where we developed our violence prevention programs and evaluated them. Ours are the first programs shown to be effective for this population through controlled trials so we truly believe we are onto something important with this work. To be able to then help with implementing these programs across the VA healthcare system and within the military is exactly what we were hoping for when we began this endeavor. Our vision for the next phase of our clinical research program is to do the same thing with a civilian population. We have every reason to believe that a trauma-informed violence prevention intervention would similarly work for a civilian population.

As a vegan, you’ve written about how you want to promote non-violence towards animals, and echo a similar message of positivity when it comes to our treatment of all living creatures. Do you see violence as a systemic problem in our society?  Are there things we can do in our own lives to help prevent violence, whether on an interpersonal level or more broadly?

We know that when children are violent to animals, it’s a warning sign for problems with interpersonal violence down the road. Similarly, when we sanction unnecessary violence towards other sentient beings in any form, it promotes the view that violence is acceptable. I do see violence as a systemic problem in our society. Violence in many forms towards both human and nonhuman animals is all around us, and I believe that a pro-intersectional framework is required to understand that various forms of violence and injustice are all inter-connected, and all violence stems from the idea that some lives matter less than others, or that some are lesser. It’s quite amazing that all three of the authors for this book are vegan and share this pro-intersectional worldview.