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Working with Abusers and Their Families

Can Good and Evil Can Exist in the Same Person?

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - Families suffering from trauma, abuse, and neglect can begin to make the crucial distinction between a chronic state of overarousal and vigilance and "reality" only once a sense of physical and psychological safety has been established. Only after this first stage is it even possible to focus on changing dysfunctional mindsets, counterproductive behavior, and destructive family patterns.

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VIDEO: Is Therapy Really a Science?

...Or is It a Conversational Craft?

William Doherty

What do the masters of truly good therapy have in common? According to couples therapist Bill Doherty, they know how to balance their desire to guide therapy with their ability to empathically listen. It's this quality that drives home the truth about therapy—at its heart, this work isn't a science. It's a craft.

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The Art of Not Knowing the Answer

A Trauma Specialist Shares Her Most Therapeutic Moment

Mary Jo Barrett

By Mary Jo Barrett - My very first case was the Byford family. The father was serving a six-month sentence for domestic abuse. During a home visit several months into treatment, the daughter, Laura, announced, “Dad is getting out of jail today! And he’s coming here!” My mind went blank. Her mother looked at me. Suddenly, it was as though I passed whatever strength I had to her, and she then passed it back to me.

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A Nightmare No More

Repairing the Parent-Child Bond is a Two-Way Street

Dafna Lender

By Dafna Lender - When difficulties arise between parent and child, most therapists naturally focus treatment on the child. But the parent–child bond is a two-way street, and parents come with their own history. In these situations, I can often find ways to help parents and children connect through attachment-based games that involve elements of silliness, movement, and surprise.

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Stop Treating Eating Disorders Like Just Bad Habits

How to Empower Clients to Heal with Parts Work

Lisa Ferentz

By Lisa Ferentz - It's unproductive to deal with an eating disorder as though it were simply a bad habit. Therapy has the greatest impact when I step away from the temptation to get into a power struggle and empower clients to do a large part of the healing work themselves.

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When Victims Victimize Others

Using Empathy to Help Abusers Make Amends

Noel Larson

By Noel Larson - Throughout my career, countless people have asked me how I can work with clients who’ve committed sexual abuse, murdered their wives, or broken their children’s bones and spirits. My answer has always been the same: all I have to do is remember and feel in my heart the traumatized children my clients once were.

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My Greatest Clinical Learning Experience

Finding the "Genuine Hero" in Even Your Most Troubled Clients

Lisa Ferentz

By Lisa Ferentz - In the early days of the trauma field, clients were seen as one-dimensional bundles of dysfunction and pain, who needed to relive their trauma before progress could be made. But an increased interest in post-traumatic growth has allowed many therapists to see that insight and healing can occur not only in the midst of devastating experiences, but even because of them.

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#MeTooManyTimes

How the Latest Movement Against Sexual Predation is Rattling Some Therapy Clients

Lauren Dockett

By Lauren Dockett - Many therapists who specialize in sexual abuse and trauma are reporting that the #MeToo movement and the ongoing accusations of sexual assault and harassment against powerful, public men are deeply affecting their clients.

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When Therapy Takes a Personal Toll

A Therapist Working with Abusers Reaches a Crossroads

Michelle Cacho-Negrette

By Michelle Cacho-Negrette - I made my first appointment with Gloria one autumn afternoon. I needed a still point, a peaceful promontory in the ocean of loud, unrepentant excuses I heard daily from the men I treated in a batterer-intervention program, men who committed unspeakable violence against those they claimed to love.

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A Look Back at the Evolution of Trauma Treatment

Are Clinicians Still Turning a Blind Eye to a Key Factor?

Mary Sykes Wylie

By Mary Sykes Wylie - In the 1970s, no sooner had the definition of PTSD been signed, sealed, and delivered, than many clinicians began to realize that the new diagnosis by no means encompassed the experience of all traumatized clients. In the case of trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk, many of his traumatized clients shared one other feature: they all reported histories of childhood abuse.

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