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Couples counselling cannot proceed whilst there is abuse
Where there is abuse of any kind in a relationship, joint counselling must be suspended, and each partner separately helped to understand and break the cycle of violence, and then work toward a stage where joint repair work can begin from a secure base.
For the partner who has used violence, this means taking full responsibility for their past conduct, and making the changes needed to ensure that the violence stops, once and for all. Men in NSW who are ready to take steps to stopping their use of violence are strongly encouraged to attend an accredited Men’s Behaviour Change Program.
For the partner who has been subjected to the violence, it means gaining control of the conditions that will ensure their own safety, and the safety of any other vulnerable members of the family, such as children or elders, who depend upon them.
See my policy statement Conjoint Counselling is Incompatible with Domestic and Family Violence for more about the suspension and resumption of conjoint relationship counselling after the use of violence has been identified.
The Duluth Power and Control Wheel shows the full range of ways in which violence can be used against a woman in order to gain power and control over her. The chart can equally be applied to any intimate-partner relationship. Domestic and family violence is not limited to heterosexual couples. Anyone can become the target of violence within a relationship.
Relationship counselling can commence only when the cycle of violence has been broken and both partners are safe and ready to undertake the processes of healing and repair. (More …)
Situational couple violence – counselling may help
Situational couple violence occurs when conflicts between partners turn into arguments that can escalate into emotional and possibly physical violence. Unlike domestic abuse, which involves a choice by one partner to exercise power and control over another, situational couple violence tends to arise when both partners turn quickly to violent confrontation instead of resolving conflicts through joint problem solving and calm collaboration. Couples who are willing to change these patterns can be coached through couples counselling to develop more constructive ways of managing their conflicts.
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