Harrow Council has launched a pilot scheme which will see violent couples participate in face-to-face therapy sessions.
The authority has provided £200,000 in funding for the scheme, which aims to “break the cycle” of intimate partner violence and reduce future outbreaks via special counselling sessions in a “supportive environment”. One couple has already begun to participate.
The pilot scheme, based on approaches pioneered in the United States, will be run by counsellors and psychotherapists from the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships in central London. Participating couples will be focused on identifying the circumstances in which they typically resort to violence and the sessions will each be informed by social worker interviews with any children of the family.
Susanna Abse is Chief Executive of the Tavistock Centre. She said:
“We are really delighted to be delivering, in partnership with Harrow council, such a new and innovative way of helping with the major challenges faced when interpersonal violence occurs between couples.”
Meanwhile, Harrow Councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick said she hoped the scheme would have a real impact on the participating families.
“If the abusers understand the impact their behaviour has on their family, we hope they can change. We are delighted we are the first place to tackle the causes of domestic abuse.”
But the announcement was met with scepticism by some women’s groups, including the End Violence Against Women Coalition, who insisted that domestic violence was rooted in the exertion of male power.
Acting Director Sarah Green said:
“The assumption in such couple counselling approaches tends to be that both parties must be at fault and they simply need to learn better behaviours. Domestic violence is about bullying and control, not misunderstanding. It is a choice, and it is deeply related to power between men and women.”
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