Research on groups for men and women who have physically abused their partners

The purpose of this project is to study group treatment for men and women who have been violent in their intimate relationships. These groups have been in existence for over twenty years, having been established in collaboration with the Crisis Centre Mobile and the Psychotherapy Training and Research Centre of the University of Jyväskylä. Initially the group was offered only for men who have been violent towards their female partners, but since 2017 also women who have been violent in their intimate relationships can participate.

The data used in the project consists of videotaped and transcribed recordings from group treatment sessions and in-depth interviews at the beginning and 2 years after the group programme. This data is complemented by a quantitative abuse inventory. All of the group treatment sessions have been videotaped since 1996. Since 2001, systematic in-depth interviews lasting 1-2 hours have been conducted also with the partners of the group participants. The partners are invited to participate in three intensive interviews – the first taking place when the abusive partner enters group treatment, the second when (s)he ended the treatment, and the third two years after the partner has finishes in the group programme.

We have used various qualitative methods in our analyses – from Narrative Analysis, Discourse Analysis, Dialogical analysis, Assimilation Analysis, to Content Analysis. We have also combined the effectiveness data from the partner interviews with the results of this process analysis. Themes of interest are the construction of the participants’ identities as violently behaving men/women, as parents and partners, and the question of what are the therapeutic interventions facilitating discursive changes in admitting responsibility. We are particularly interested in the discursive changes connected with long-term changes in violent behaviour.

Our research group has close connections with Alternativ til Vold (ATV), in Norway, through their cooperation with the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies.

Research group:

Head: Juha Holma
  Jaakko Seikkula
  Aarno Laitila
  Helena Päivinen
  Heli Siltala